Before Rick Porcello even threw a regular season pitch for the Boston Red Sox, he had a new contract in hand. Porcello and the Red Sox agreed on a four-year, $82.5 million contract that will start in 2016. The deal, which was first reported by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe on Monday, will pay Porcello $20 million in 2016 and 2017, and $21 million in 2018 and 2019. He is currently in his final year of arbitration, earning $12.5 million in 2015.
Porcello went 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA in five seasons with the Tigers. He pitched over 1,000 innings in a Tigers uniform, ranking 36th in franchise history. His 76 wins are the 29th-highest total in Tigers history. His last two years in a Tigers uniform were his most productive, with a 3.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.26 WHIP in 381 2/3 combined innings.
Porcello's induction into the $20 million pitcher club resulted in a bit of sticker shock, especially among Tigers fans who have watched Porcello's growing pains over the past five years. His peripheral numbers improved every year, but his ERA remained in the mid-4's until a breakout 3.43 ERA in 2014. Porcello also topped the 200-inning plateau for the first time last season, and led the league with three shutouts. The Red Sox are hopeful that surrounding Porcello with a solid infield defense will help him (finally) reach his full potential.
The deal represents a bit of a gamble for the Red Sox, but one worthy of praise. Porcello is the latest in a series of contracts -- Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez this offseason the others -- that pay a premium for a player's prime seasons in order to avoid the inevitable decline in their mid-to-late 30s. Porcello, still only 26 years old, is now under contract through his age-29 season. He will reach free agency as a 30-year-old, the same age as recent signees Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. Sandoval, a 28-year-old who has battled concerns over his weight throughout his career, is only under contract for five years. Ramirez is the oldest of this group at 31, but his contract is only four years in length.
The extension is a bit of a gut punch for the Tigers, who face a lot of uncertainty in their rotation heading into 2016. David Price and Alfredo Simon are both in the final year of their respective contracts, and Porcello's extension takes one potential free agent signee off the market. There will likely be a few more extensions prior to next winter, thinning the pitching options for Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski.
Elsewhere in baseball
Cleveland Indians sign Corey Kluber to $38.5 million contract extension - Let's Go Tribe, Jason Lukehart
Porcello's deal dwarfs the contract extension that the Indians gave reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber this weekend, but Kluber's deal has a couple of team options that could increase the total contract value to $77 million over the next seven years. The deal buys out the last four years of team control for the soon-to-be 29-year-old Kluber, and could keep him in Cleveland through 2021.
Astros 2, Indians 0: Keuchel Outduels Kluber In Pitcher's Duel - The Crawfish Boxes
Unfortunately, Kluber's new contract couldn't buy him some run support against Astros lefthander Dallas Keuchel last night. Kluber didn't allow a hit until the sixth and pitched into the eighth, but ultimately took the loss after allowing both Astros runs.
Royals agree to long-term contract with Yordano Ventura - Royals Review, Max Rieper
The Royals wasted no time locking Yordano Ventura into a long-term deal after a stellar rookie season, signing the 23-year-old to a five-year extension. It's not a huge extension for Ventura, who still had five years of club control remaining, but it keeps his arbitration costs down while allowing for two extra years of club control, via team options in 2020 and 2021.
Royals 10, White Sox 1: Familiar start to new year - South Side Sox, Jim Margalus
The Royals gave White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija a warm welcome to the AL Central, tagging him for five earned runs in six innings. Jose Abreu (who else?) added Chicago's only run with a homer off Yordano Ventura.
Twins RHP Ervin Santana given 80-game suspension for PED - SBNation.com, Catherine Slonksnis
Ervin Santana tested positive for Stanozolol, a derivative of the anabolic steroid Winstrol, and was suspended for half of the MLB season without pay. Santana signed a four-year, $55 million contract with the Twins this offseason, the largest free agent deal in franchise history. The Twins will use righthander Mike Pelfrey in their rotation in Santana's place to begin the year.
Game #1: It's a Sonny new day in Oakland - Athletics Nation, Alex Hall
Sonny Gray was the biggest star in an Opening Day rife with great starting pitching. Gray took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers and allowed just two baserunners in an 8-0 A's victory. More importantly, Gray's performance gave me an early lead over Fielder's Choice in one of the BYB fantasy leagues.
Home runs for Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis, Jays beat Yankees on Opening Day - Bluebird Banter, Tom Dakers
Former Tigers prospect Devon Travis not only won the Blue Jays' starting second base job this season, he hit his first career home run in his first career MLB game.
Mets spoil Max Scherzer's D.C. debut, win 3-1 over Nationals in season opener - Federal Baseball, Patrick Reddington
Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his Washington Nationals debut, but the New York Mets came back to beat the Nats on Opening Day in D.C.
How did the big MLB offseason acquisitions fare in their debuts? - SBNation.com, Alex Skillin
Yoenis Cespedes was one of many players who excelled in their debuts with new teams on Opening Day.