When the Tigers traded Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes in December, they exchanged one player going into the final year of his contract for another (Detroit also got reliever Alex Wilson in the deal). Boston subsequently inked Porcello to a four-year extension worth $82.5 million. Detroit went in another direction, opting to hold their cards on Cespedes. Today, they dealt him to the Mets in exchange for a pair of prospects.
Exactly how much interest Dave Dombrowski and Company had in extending Porcello prior to moving him last winter is hard to say. Conversely, it’s safe to say they didn’t feel he was worth what it would take to retain him. Based on his performance in Boston, they were right in their evaluation.
Porcello has a 5.81 ERA in 20 starts for the Red Sox. In franchise history, only John Lackey (6.19 in 2011) and Jack Lamabe (5.89 in 1964) have posted a higher ERA in a season where they threw at least 150 innings. To this point, Porcello has been an expensive debacle.
Cespedes – playing for a new contract – has been a different story. The 29-year-old Cuban outfielder has lived up to expectations by hitting .293/.323/.506 with 18 home runs. Add in above-average defense, and he’s been worth 4.2 WAR.
Regardless of any extension negotiations that may have taken place this summer, Cespedes – represented by Roc Nation Sports – has clearly been targeting free agency. Keeping him all season was a viable option only if the Tigers were playoff bound. With those chances a dim glimmer, and their “reboot” already kick-started with the departures of David Price and Joakim Soria, it was inevitable that they would get what they could for Cespedes.
What the Tigers got was a pair of prospects – as yet to be named as I type this – from a team in need of offense. Who the prospects are will go a long way toward determining how well Dombrowski did by waiting until minutes before the deadline to pull the trigger.
As for the Mets, they brought on board an impact player who will bolster their lineup down the stretch. Assuming Cespedes is a short-term rental, and depending on who is heading to Detroit, this is a huge gamble. The Mets are on the periphery of serious contention, and compromising their future wouldn’t be prudent.
We’ll have more on this reported deal soon.
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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.
Word is it’s Fulmer and Cessa