Potential free agent Rick Porcello sees ‘troubling' landscape for veteran signings


A year from now, Rick Porcello could be the one who is unsigned come January or February. If his winter as a free agent is anything like this offseason or last, why wouldn’t he still be on the market, looking for a team to pay up for a proven starter, someone who is a former Cy Young winner and consistently eats up innings?

Lefty Dallas Keuchel can describe himself in the same way, and he’s still waiting for the right offer this winter.

Surveying the market landscape last month while at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods, Porcello was alarmed, but not solely because the biggest names were still available, such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

“I don't think that it’s the fact that those guys are unsigned right now that’s troubling to me,” Porcello said. “I think it’s more the willingness of teams to invest in their own ballclub and want to win that is that is what’s concerning. Just because the fans are paying a lot...pay for a ticket, and watch a game, and the players are making money off of those tickets, as well as the team and ownership. And when you’re not giving it back to the fans 100 percent, then there’s something wrong there.

“That’s where I think that the system has broken down a little bit. Because ultimately this game, yeah, there’s a lot of money involved, and it’s a business on the ownership and players’ end and our careers. But it’s about the fans. That’s the one thing that makes this game go. And I don’t think we’re doing right by them by keeping some top-notch veteran free agents off rosters because the guys that you’re bringing up are getting paid less money and it’s an easy way to save.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily right, but again, that’s another thing that needs to be evaluated more and taken care of. At some point what’s best for the game of baseball has to be our top priority and our concern. It’s a great game, it’s our national pastime, it’s been around for over 100 years. There’s plenty of money to go around for everyone. So, let’s put the best product on the field. I just feel like enough’s enough with this already.”

Asked if he sees a solution to tanking, Porcello reiterated that “the best solution is to understand what’s best for the game of baseball and ultimately that’s how all of us will benefit from it.”

Players seem to be more and more aware of their labor issues, or at least, more of them seem to be vocal about their feelings. Or perhaps both.

“We are less [than] a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned,” Evan Longoria recently wrote on Instagram. 

“Such a shame. [It] seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should ‘value’ for your team even be a consideration?

“It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players, we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.”

Like Porcello, Sox owner John Henry gave his evaluation of the market at Winter Weekend. He said the performances teams are getting from their younger players has hurt the free-agent market.

“We have a lot more production something from younger players for whatever reason," Henry said. "I think that has negatively impacted free agency." 

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