Boston’s rotation reconstruction continued Thursday morning. The Red Sox acquired 25-year-old right-hander Rick Porcello from the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, right-handed reliever Alex Wilson and a minor leaguer, according to multiple media reports.
The 29-year-old Cespedes was traded to Boston at last July’s deadline in the transaction that sent Jon Lester to Oakland. At the time, the A’s were one of the best teams in baseball, but subtracting the Cuban-born slugger from their lineup proved detrimental. Cespedes belted 22 home runs and knocked in 100 runs in 2014 to accompany a .269 average and .719 OPS.
His free-swinging nature did not fit into Boston’s preference for a patient plate approach, and Cespedes is expected to explore the free agent market at the end of the 2015 campaign. At least for next season, he gives the Tigers another middle of the order power bat to pair with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
Dealing Cespedes also frees space in the Red Sox crowded outfield, which is projected to include Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts. Shane Victorino is returning from an injury while the roster also features Daniel Nava and Allen Craig. Several teams have talked to the Red Sox about Craig, who could be dealt before Opening Day.
Like Wade Miley, the left-hander Boston obtained on Wednesday night from Arizona, Porcello is an innings-eater who induces ground balls and pounds the strike zone. Last season, he was 15-13with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP over 32 appearances (31 starts) and 204.1 innings. A first round pick o the Tigers out of Seton Hall University in 2007, Porcello is under team control through 2016. In 2014, he received $8.5 million and is eligible for arbitration once again.
Wilson is a 28-year-old right-hander who was Boston’s second round pick out of Texas A&M in 2009. He has limited Major League experience but thrived with the Red Sox in 2014, posting a 1.91 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP over 19 games and 28.1 innings. He is considered a middle reliever and is expected to compete for a spot in the Tigers bullpen, which was ineffective last season.
Not only has Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington added two rotation arms in the last 24 hours, but he has also cleared more space on the 40-man roster, which now sits at 37.
Considering that the Red Sox still need a No. 1 starter, the club might include Kelly or Miley in a trade package with Philadelphia for Cole Hamels or Cincinnati for Johnny Cueto since both pitchers are effective and are under affordable team control for a few more years. Boston could also keep Kelly, Miley, Porcello and Buchholz and add a frontline starter like Hamels, Cueto or free agent James Shields.