NEW YORK (AP)Rick Porcello’s $10 million deal with the New York Mets shows the fruits of free agency as much as Gerrit Cole’s $324 million contract across town with the Yankees.
While Cole set a record, location was among Porcello’s primary concerns.
”I live about an hour away from Citi Field,” he said Monday after the Mets announced his contract. ”That opportunity of having the hometown comfort, the ability for my father and family and friends to be able to come and see these games in person and be get to experience it a little bit more live, were pretty deciding factors for me.”
Porcello lives in Morristown, New Jersey, and was at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange when Detroit selected him with the 27th overall pick of the 2007 amateur draft. He was traded to Boston after the 2014 season and was guaranteed $95 million by the Red Sox over the next five seasons. He won the AL Cy Young Award with a 22-4 record in 2016 and was 17-7 in 2018, when he earned a World Series ring.
”This is a big deal for me,” he said. ”I grew up a lifelong Mets fan as a kid, and now to get the opportunity to play for the organization that I cheered on for so many years is a huge honor.”
New York was the first team to contact Porcello during free agency and former Mets pitcher Al Leiter, now a New York baseball operations adviser, helped recruit him. Porcello remembered going to a game when Mike Piazza went deep.
”Watching him in person be able to hit a home run at Shea Stadium was a huge thrill for me,” Porcello recalled, adding the 2000 NL pennant and Subway Series against the Yankees was another thrill.
”Just kind of being a fan along for that ride was absolutely incredible experience,”’he said.
A right-hander who turns 31 on Dec. 27, Porcello joins a rotation that includes Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard plus fellow New York-area natives Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz, who grew up on Long Island.
Michael Wacha, who agreed to a $3 million deal last week, also hopes to earn a rotation spot, and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman also preparing for spring training as starters.
”I think we’re probably the deepest starting pitching rotation in baseball,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said last week.
Porcello was 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA in 32 starts last season. He has started throwing earlier this offseason and instituted new drills.
”There’s kind of a long list of things, honestly, from the offseason leading into spring training, and then certain things that kind of happened throughout the course this season that I think contributed to some of the struggles that I had,” he said.
”I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what was going on, the mechanical side of things. I think that mechanically when things are off, it starts to affect higher thinking on the mound, and then the mental stuff starts to go a little bit. But it was just a matter of not being in position to execute pitches,” he said
Porcello has a 149-118 record and 4.36 ERA overall. Thinking back to Boston’s win over Houston in the 2018 AL Championship Series, he didn’t recall any questionable sign stealing attempts by the Astros.
”I didn’t have any suspicions outside of the normal things that go on in everyday baseball,” he said. ”To be honest with you, I wasn’t even thinking about that sort of stuff. I was trying not to toss my cookies and make sure I was executing pitches and throwing strikes.”
Notes: To clear a roster spot, RHP Stephen Nogosek was designated for assignment by the Mets.
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