Did the Boston Red Sox Get It Right With the Rick Porcello Extension?

Rick Porcello received a four-year extension from the Red Sox worth $82.5 million. Was it the right move for the Red Sox?

Before throwing his first pitch in a regular season game wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, Rick Porcello locked himself into the starting rotation until the end of 2019.

After this season, he will get $20 million in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons and then $21 million in 2018 and 2019. He also received a $0.5 million signing bonus.

This biggest draw with Porcello is that he’s one of 39 pitchers who has logged more than 1,000 innings since he came on to the scene in 2009. Now, that list includes some aces, such as Felix Hernandez, David Price, and Adam Wainwright, but there are other starters who reached the mark from sheer durability.

Pitchers such asA.J. Burnett, Jeremy Guthrie, and Bronson Arroyo also make up that list, and they haven’t come anywhere near the type of contract Porcello received.

Looking at the latter of the listed pitchers, Porcello’s numbers compare most similarly to theirs in that time span. Although the 26-year-old righty has age over Burnett, Arroyo, and Guthrie, giving him more time to blossom, it’s hard to ignore that none of those three have ever sniffed a contract similar to the Red Sox starter. Burnett was the closest to receiving something similar to that, when he got a contract with the Yankees during which he earned $16.5 million each season from 2009 to 2013.

So what is it the Red Sox see in Porcello? Why’s he worth that kind of money when he’s a career 4.30 ERA and 4.03 FIP pitcher? Is his durability worth that much?

Benefits of Age

On that same list, Porcello is the youngest pitcher and is one of three born in 1988. Trevor Cahill turned 27 last month, as did the game’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw.

It’s not fair to compare Porcello (or pretty much anyone) to Kershaw, but Cahill is a different story. These two have fairly similar numbers. While Cahill has the edge in career ERA (4.07 to 4.30), Porcello has the edge in FIP (4.03 to 4.28).

Cahill has 63 more strikeouts in 33.1 fewer innings and has let up 192 fewer hits, as well.

Looking solely at the numbers, it fair to argue Cahill had been the better pitcher up until last season when Cahill’s ERA ballooned to 5.61 and FIP was 3.89 -- compared to Porcello’s 3.43 ERA and 3.67 FIP.

It’s fair to anticipate that Cahill won’t get the same kind of money if he hits the free agent market this offseason, especially with the available pitchers coming down the line.

Gradual Improvements

Porcello’s first season was very impressive, but he struggled for the next four years. In 2010, he had a 4.92 ERA and had his lowest start total to this point in his career. However, he has seen improvements with most numbers every year since.

The righty’s sixth year in the Majors -- 2014 -- was his best by far. He led Major League Baseball in shutouts, throwing the first three of his career, while also logging more than 200 innings for the first time in his career. He also saw a major drop in his ERA, knocking off nearly a whole run.

It’s safe to say Boston expects to get something similar to the 2014 Porcello over the next five years.

Was it the Right Move?

Based on the numbers and trends, it was the right move.

Now some may think, “The Indians just signed Corey Kluber for less than half that!” That’s true. The 2014 Cy Young winner did sign with Cleveland for much less than Porcello, inking a $38.5 million deal from 2015 to 2019 the day before his first start of the year.

While Kluber looked great in his first start of 2015, he hasn’t thrown half as many innings as Porcello in his career, only logging two full seasons to Porcello’s six.

On top of that, Porcello is three years younger, so comparing these two deals is tough to do given these big differences.

As for the Red Sox, only time will tell if Porcello continues the trend of improving upon his numbers in 2015 and beyond. but the deal looks like a good one for both Boston and Porcello.