The Tigers joined the fray at the winter meetings today by trading Rick Porcello to the Boston Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes. The Red Sox will also send right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson and left-hander Gabe Speier to Detroit to complete the deal.
We have begged for an outfield solution that allows a platoon of Anthony Gose and Rajai Davis, and Cespedes solves this problem. Cespedes has played mainly left field with some time in center field, while J. D. Martinez has played mainly left field with some time in right field. Presumably this will allow Cespedes and Martinez to occupy the corner outfield positions with Gose and Davis sharing center field.
Yoenis Cespedes has three years of major league experience but is entering his age 29 season, having begun his career in Cuba. He reliably posts a .260 / .315 / .460 line with 20+ home runs. In today's low-scoring environment, this is above average.
Cespedes negotiated a unique contract with Oakland, not having come through the draft, and will be a free agent following the 2015 season. Rick Porcello will be a free agent after the season as well, and stands to land a contract in excess of $100 million.
Porcello has completed six full seasons though he is turning only 26 years old two days after Christmas. His 2014 season was his best by the measures of ERA, WHIP, and bWAR. While we always wanted to see him pitch in front of a strong infield defense for a season, and Jose Iglesias may have provided that opportunity, the Tigers are trading Porcello while his value is high.
Porcello can thrive in Boston as a ground ball pitcher, frequently avoiding the green monster. He is from New Jersey and makes his home in Vermont, so the Red Sox have a better chance of signing him to a contract extension than do the Tigers. With the departure of Jon Lester from the Red Sox, Porcello is a great fit for Boston.
The departure of Torii Hunter left a void in the Tigers' outfield which is now filled. Max Scherzer is not likely to return, but David Price takes the ace spot in the rotation, and Shane Greene was acquired to fill the rotation. Now the departure of Rick Porcello leaves a hole in the rotation. Stay tuned, Dave Dombrowski may fill this soon and Jon Morosi is reporting that a second trade is on the way.
The trade of Cespedes from Oakland to Boston last summer was often blamed for the Athletics subsequent collapse, falling from first place to a wild card spot and an exit from the playoffs in only one game. If this works in reverse, his acquisition can spark the Tigers to a fifth consecutive first place finish.