The New York Mets made about as predictable a move as you could imagine this morning, signing former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello to a one-year deal according to Ken Rosenthal. The deal will pay Porcello $10 million for the 2020 season. The news comes less than 18 hours after the club signed Michael Wacha to a one year contract.
Porcello and the Mets have been linked throughout the offseason. The 30-year-old is coming off a down year, posting a 5.52 ERA, a 4.76 FIP, a 1.39 WHIP, and a 1.1 bWAR in 32 starts for the Boston Red Sox. He finished with the highest ERA in the American League among qualified starting pitchers. In five years with Boston, he put together a 4.43 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, a 1.26 WHIP, a 2.0 BB/9, an 8.0 K/9, a 9.4 bWAR, and a 2016 AL Cy Young Award in 159 starts. Prior to that, he pitched to a 4.30 ERA, a 4.03 FIP, a 1.31 WHIP, a 2.2 BB/9, a 5.5 K/9, and a 10.5 bWAR in six seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Those numbers certainly fit the mold of “fifth starter”.
Recently, Andy Martino speculated that the team had been working on finding a taker for Jed Lowrie in order to free up the money to sign Porcello (or a reliever like Dellin Betances). With the deal complete, it is likely the team will ramp up those efforts, especially as the move puts them perilously close to the luxury tax threshold that they are determined not to surpass. The Wacha deal was for $3 million, but includes $7 million in incentives that the team is planning to count “just to be safe”.
While predictable, the move isn’t inherently bad depending on how the team follows it up. Ideally, the team could retain both Wacha and Porcello as insurance in case one of their other starters suffers an injury or under-performs, with one of them (Wacha) starting the year in the bullpen. However, Rosenthal later added that the dual signings could possibly lead the team to explore moving a starter if necessary. This would make the signing fall firmly in the “bad category” as it would result in the team rolling with a rotation that includes both Wacha and Porcello.