Detroit Tigers acquire slugger Yoenis Cespedes from Boston for pitcher Rick Porcello

December 11, 2014

The Detroit Tigers' already potent lineup just got tougher, as the team today acquired slugger and All Star outfielder Yoenis Céspedes from the Boston Red Sox, along with right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson and minor league left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello.

With MVP-candidate Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Cespedes now hitting in the heart of the Tigers batting order, the deal gives Detroit the pop to accompany its typically strong pitching.

"We're thrilled to be adding an All-Star to our team in Yoenis Cespedes," said Tigers President, CEO and General Manager, David Dombrowski. "Cespedes is a dynamic all-around player who hits for power, provides solid run production and will play left field. Alex Wilson is a solid performer who has pitched at the major league level and will compete for a job in our bullpen this spring. Gabe Speier is a young player that our scouts like."

Cespedes was acquired by Boston last year in a midseason deal with Oakland, but became somewhat expendable after the Red Sox signed another slugger in free agent Hanley Ramirez.  When Boston was unable to sign free agent pitcher Jon Lester this offseason, the Red Sox brass felt a need to make a move for a starter to add to their rotation, and Cespedes became their major trade chip.

Cespedes, 29, batted .260, with 89 runs scored, 36 doubles, six triples, 22 home runs, and 100 RBI in 152 games between the Oakland Athletics and Red Sox in 2014. He set single-season career highs in runs scored, hits, doubles, extra-base hits (64), RBI and total bases (270) and was selected to his first All-Star team last year. He batted .309 with runners in scoring position in 2014.

Additionally, Cespedes ranked eighth in the American League in extra-base hits, and ninth in RBI and doubles this past season. He topped all major league outfielders with 16 outfield assists, including four after joining Boston. He won his second consecutive MLB Home Run Derby title on July 14 at Target Field with 30 total home runs.

Over three full seasons at the major league level between the Athletics and Red Sox, Cespedes, a right-handed batter, has hit .263 with 233 runs scored, 82 doubles, 15 triples, 71 home runs, and 262 RBI in 416 games. The 5-10, 210-pound outfielder from Cuba was originally signed as an amateur free agent in 2012 by the Athletics.

Meanwhile, the improving Porcello, 25, went 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 204.2 innings over 32 appearances for the Tigers last season, including 31 starts.  But after the Tigers acquired starter Alfredo Simon this offseason, Detroit was in a better position to deal Porcello for another bat.

Along with leading the American League with three shutouts, Porcello also placed among AL leaders while setting career bests in wins (T-8th), ERA (17th), innings (13th), and road ERA (6th, 2.66). He held both right-handed and left-handed batters to a .268 batting average, ranked second in the majors with 30 opponent ground into double plays, and had the eighth-highest ground ball-to-fly ball ratio in the AL.

Porcello had a career-low 1.8 walks per nine innings in 2014, the eighth-best mark in the AL and his third season among the league's top 10 in that category.

In his final 18 outings (17 starts) of 2014 beginning on July 26, he posted a 3.18 ERA, the 12th-best mark among AL pitchers with at least 100.0 innings. That stretch began with back-to-back complete game, 9.0-inning shutouts on June 26 at Texas and July 1 against Oakland, respectively.

Signed by the Tigers as the 27th selection in the first round of the 2007 June Draft, Porcello has made at least 27 starts and pitched at least 162.2 innings in all six big league seasons since his 2009 debut.

He placed third among AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 after going 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA in 31 starts for the Tigers. That year, the 20-year-old was the youngest player in the AL.

Porcello has reached double-digits in wins in every season of his big league career, just the third pitcher in modern major league history (since 1900) to record at least 10 wins in each of his first six seasons before turning 26 years old, along with Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Bert Blyleven.

Porcello appeared with the Tigers in the postseason in three consecutive seasons from 2011-13, going 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA in eight outings (2 starts), including four scoreless relief appearances in the 2012 and 2013 postseasons.

Wilson, 27, went 1-0 and posted a career-low 1.91 ERA (6 ER/28.1 IP) with five walks and 19 strikeouts in 18 relief appearances for the Red Sox in 2014. Used exclusively as a reliever over the last two full seasons, Wilson allowed only three home runs over his 56.0 innings of work in the majors in that span.

When he made his major league debut with Boston in 2013, Wilson became the first Saudi Arabian-born pitcher to appear in a big league game. For his major league career, which has spanned the last two years with the Red Sox (2013-14), he has gone 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA (21 ER/56.0 IP), 19 walks, and 41 strikeouts in 44 appearances, all in relief. The Red Sox' 2011 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Wilson was originally a second-round selection (77th overall) by Boston in the 2009 June Draft.

Speier, 19, spent this past season, his second in professional baseball, with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. In his nine games (six starts) for the Gulf Coast League champions, he went 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA (5 ER/29.0 IP), one walk, and 26 strikeouts. He held opponents to two runs or fewer in all nine of his appearances in 2014, and allowed only six extra-base hits on the season (5 doubles, 1 triple), none of which were home runs.

The nephew of former major league veteran Chris Speier, Gabe was a 19th-round selection by the Red Sox in the 2013 June Draft. Over his professional career, Speier has gone 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA (6 ER/33.0 IP), two walks, and 32 strikeouts in 12 games (8 starts).

By Staff of and news services

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