Rick Porcello still refuses to put the cart before the horse.
Porcello, who turned 26 in December, is slated to hit the open market next offseason, meaning he’s in a perfect position to cash in with a solid 2015 season. The Boston Red Sox pitcher is taking a Jon Lester-like approach to his impending free agency, though. The right-hander is blocking out all outside noise with spring training approaching.
“Honestly, I haven’t even thought about that yet,” Porcello told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford last week at the Red Sox’s spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla. “I think whether it’s a contract discussion or anything else that could possibly to be a distraction for the team, I think it’s important for those things to be limited.
“If that was something that I felt was going to be a distraction then, yeah, I wouldn’t want to talk about it. But I haven’t thought about any of that stuff. Honestly, I’m down here focusing on my bullpen session, my running and my lifting. We’ll confront that stuff when it comes up.”
Lester, like Porcello, downplayed the hoopla surrounding his contract status several times last season before being traded to the Oakland Athletics at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The left-hander’s desire to table contract talks during the season actually might have played a role in his departure — the Red Sox were unsure whether they’d be able to re-sign him at season’s end — but everything worked out for him from a financial standpoint. Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason.
Porcello doesn’t have Lester’s résumé just yet, especially with regard to postseason baseball. But Porcello still has a good track record, and his youth could help him land a substantial contract next winter if everything falls into place with Boston this season.
“I’m just one of those types of guys where I can’t let myself think about it,” Porcello told Bradford. “It is a cliche and it is an easy answer, but that’s how I approach everything, whether it’s a contract year or not. I just try and take one day at a time. I think for me that’s how I limit my distractions and things I really shouldn’t be thinking about and what I can’t control.
“What I can control is working hard today. My main focus is to help this team this season and having a good year and us bringing back another ring. That’s really what it’s all about. The contract, it’s all personal stuff and great, but if you don’t play for winning and championships, then in my mind it’s all for nothing.”
Porcello was unable to taste World Series glory during his six seasons with the Detroit Tigers despite some stacked teams and a few close calls. He’s now entering the biggest season of his life, and Lester seemingly has provided a perfect blueprint for how to handle all of the uncertainty that comes with a contract year.
Porcello is sounding a lot like Lester these days. And that’s meant to be a compliment.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images