Tigers and Red Sox Swap Cespedes and Porcello

The Tigers needed another outfielder. The Red Sox needed starting pitching, and needed to trade an outfielder or three. The fit seems reasonable, and so now it appears that Detroit and Boston have exchanged Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello, with the Tigers getting two additional players as well. And to add to the intrigue, the Tigers are reportedly simultaneously shipping several prospects to Cincinnati in exchange for a starting pitcher. While we don’t know all the names involved, it seems like the final details might be something like this.

The Red Sox get Rick Porcello
The Tigers get Yoenis Cespdes and maybe Mike Leake or Mat Latos
The Reds get prospects.

The facts, as we kind of know them now.

Porcello turns 26 in a few weeks and is headed into his final year before he becomes a free agent; he’s projected to earn $12 million in his final trip through arbitration. He’s developed nicely into roughly a +3 WAR starter by avoiding walks and getting groundballs, while also flashing some strikeout ability in 2013, but that didn’t carry over to last year. He’s a durable and effective innings eater, with perhaps a little bit of upside remaining beyond that.

Cespedes is 29 and is also going to be a free agent at years end, though unlike Porcello, the Tigers won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer as part of the terms of his contract. Cespedes will earn $10.5 million in 2015, so he’s slightly cheaper than Porcello, but the difference is minimal. Like Porcello, he’s settled in as a +3 WAR player, and he projects to perform at about that level next year.

So, really, this is a swap of two similarly valuable pieces, both in their walk years, both making about the same money. The qualifying offer potential makes Porcello a little more valuable, which is why Boston is kicking in a pair of prospects, but we shouldn’t expect them to be deal changing talents. The Red Sox turn a +3 WAR player they didn’t need into one they do, while the Tigers found it easier to replace Porcello with whichever Reds starter they’re acquiring than find another outfielder besisdes Cespedes.

Obviously, the names in the Cincinnati trade could change things, but on first glance, this looks like a reasonable deal for everyone. The Tigers turn more future value into a short-term upgrade, the Red Sox realgin their roster towards more pitching, and the Reds perhaps admit that it’s time to rebuild.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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7 years ago

I hate this for the Tigers. Anyone else think this is a bit of a ripoff even if they get Leake or Latos?

7 years ago
Reply to  southie

While I appreciate the speed in putting this up, the Porcello trade really can’t be evaluated until the names of the minor leaguers are known.

7 years ago
Reply to  ralph

One of them is Alex Wilson…the other is a lower level guy.

7 years ago
Reply to  MARK LIU

Great job by the Sox, in that they got a very good starter for Cespedes, without overpaying for the upgrade.

I agree with Southie that it’s hard to fathom what the Tigers are thinking. Unless maybe they’re angling to get Cueto, which would be a great flip for them (on par with the Dodgers turning Gordon into Kendrick)

7 years ago
Reply to  southie

At first glance, I thought so, but I can’t find fault with Dave’s analysis. I undervalued Cespedes and over valued Porcello.

Happy Fun Ball
7 years ago
Reply to  southie

They’re getting Alfredo Simon. So. Urrgh…

7 years ago
Reply to  Happy Fun Ball

He should give them at least as much as Robbie Ray did.