Tricky Rick: A Push for Rick Porcello
Image courtesy of © Amber Searls-USA TODAY SportsA few days back Andrew Simon of MLB.com scribed an article diving into the wealth of talented starting pitchers still on the free agent market. While Trevor Bauer is perhaps unattainable and Corey Kluber is headed to the Yankees, Simon mentions a name that Twins fans are no stranger to.
Known primarily for his lengthy tenure in Detroit and 2016 Cy Young campaign in Boston, Porcello isn’t the player that he used to be. After signing with the Mets prior to the 2020 season, Porcello posted a meager record of 1-7 in 12 starts, allowing 74 hits in 59 innings.
Porcello isn’t the golden ticket ‘fix’ that Twins fans have been waiting for all offseason. Yet the veteran righty could fill an important puzzle piece in the Twins’ effort to maintain dominance in the AL Central and beyond. Here’s why.
A 12 year veteran, Rick Porcello has seen his fair share of ups and downs; but more ups. The sinker and slider hurler has posted a winning record in seven of his 12 seasons in the majors , including a 14-12 record for Boston in 2019.
Porcello has reached 10 wins in eight major league seasons in a career that has been filled with years of 30+ starts per year. The latter of those numbers is as many as you’ll see across the league. And minus a tricep strain in Boston and other minor injuries, Porcello has stayed healthy as a horse.
The point? Porcello is almost guaranteed to gut out a 162 game season without injuries and a likelihood of solid success.
No, Porcello would not presume the role of ace for the Twins. But consistency equates to value and wins; something the Twins did not see last year with Jake Odorizzi.
As of today we still don’t know if Odorizzi will be a Minnesota Twin in 2021. While it would be great to see ‘Odo’ back this season, Porcello could provide a replacement surrounded by health and stability in 2021.
Porcello’s rough go-about with the Mets in 2020 could prove beneficial for the Twins if they have interest in signing him. The Mets signed Porcello to a one-year, $10 million contract last year. There’s no doubt that Porcello’s future in the MLB will consist of a lower contract elsewhere.
As mentioned before, Porcello wouldn’t be the big splash that the Twins accrue during the offseason. The prior activity of this offseason has already proven that most teams are looking to be frugal before they enter the 2021 season. Despite his success in Detroit and Boston, Porcello’s lackluster New York campaign will drop his price tag for 2021.
It’s likely that the Twins will spend their ‘big bucks’ on a middle infielder such as Kiké Hernández, Marcus Semien, or Tommy La Stella. Yet if Minnesota could secure a $3-4 million deal with Porcello with incentives, they wouldn’t have to break the bank in their pursuit of beefing up the infield.
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote a devil’s advocate piece on the Twins gunning for Yu Darvish. Clearly, that isn’t an option anymore.
Consider this a devil’s advocate for the Twins nabbing the potential best ‘fourth rotation' guy in the league’.
Yes, Porcello is coming off a rocky 2020 campaign. And yes, it is easy for folks to assume doubt in his potential for the 2021 season.
Yet let’s not forget, Porcello posted a rough 9-15 record in 2015 before crafting a beautiful Cy Young season in 2016. 2020 was a rough season for Porcello, but 2015 was the only year besides 2020 where he has posted a record under 10 wins.
Porcello most likely won’t win a Cy Young in 2021, but he could be an extremely valuable asset to the Twins starting rotation. Kenta Maeda and José Berríos have almost certainly secured the top spots in the rotation, but Porcello could compete rigorously with Michael Pineda for the three-four spot.
Regardless of where Pineda and Porcello wind up, the addition of Rick would excel the Twins rotation to a level of stature that they haven’t seen, especially if Jake Odorizzi isn’t a Twin in 2021.
And if he is? That’s gravy.
A rotation of Maeda, Berríos, Pineda, Odorizzi, and Porcello could round out as one of the best in the American League. A rotation that folks could look at any given matchup and say “alright we’ve got a shot.”
Rick Porcello isn’t the sexiest pitcher on the market. But there’s no denying that he could improve the Twins’ chances of winning the AL Central and bolstering them deep into the postseason.
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