Rick Porcello might have to temper any expectations over a big payday he might have.
ESPN’s Craig Edwards on Monday included the former Boston Red Sox pitcher among Major League Baseball free agents who’ll struggle to receive their desired contract terms this offseason. Edwards believes interested teams will be wary of offering a lucrative deal to a veteran pitcher, whose strikeout rate has fallen while he has allowed an increasing number of fly balls.
“… Porcello has been in the league for 11 seasons, but doesn’t turn 31 until next month, so he isn’t quite a grizzled veteran,” Edwards wrote. “There are warning signs, however, that might prevent Porcello from getting a multiyear deal.
“Porcello was once a ground ball-heavy, pitch-to-contact guy with the Tigers, but he induced a few more fly balls with the Red Sox along with an increased strikeout rate and always-low walk totals. Last season, his ground ball rate dipped to 38 percent, which ranked 50th out of 61 qualified pitchers. More fly balls should go with more swing-and-misses up in the zone, but Porcello’s strikeout rate fell below 19 percent and that also ranked 50th among qualified pitchers. A lot of contact combined with a lot of fly balls proved to be a bad mix for Porcello, who posted a 4.76 FIP and even worse 5.52 ERA. He might not have been as bad as his ERA suggests, but he’s relatively low on the list of free-agent starting pitchers and could end up with just a one-year deal.”
Porcello went 14-12 with a career-high 5.52 ERA in 2019. He entered free agency after the season, and some MLB analysts predict he’ll sign a contract worth between $9 million and $12 million per season.
While that salary is a steep drop from the $21 million-per-year he earned under terms of his previous deal with the Red Sox, the number of years interested teams offer him might determine whether he exits free agency happily or pitches next season and beyond with a contract-inspired chip on his shoulder.