Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Starting pitching has, and will continue to be, at a premium in Major League Baseball. Although the Red Sox appear to be set at the position, they absolutely are not.
As currently constituted, the club has an opening somewhere within the rotation. Although nothing is ever set in stone, we can expect at least this:
1. Chris Sale
2. Drew Pomeranz
3. Rick Porcello
4. David Price
Doug Fister hooked up with Texas for $4M, Eduardo Rodriguez will need til early June to recover from a ligament restructure in his right knee, and Steven Wright’s future is clouded due to his recent arrest. The farm still holds Brian Johnson and Hector Valezquez, who combined to go 5-1 for the good guys in ’17, but considering the offenses in the division, they’re more suited as spot starters. Maybe even swingmen in the pen.
While there is a surplus of starting hurlers available as 2017’s end draws near, there are a few solid names that can be swiped off Boston’s radar:
C.C. Sabathia- Yankees, 1 yr. $10M
Michael Pineda- Twins, 2 yr. $10M
Drew Smyly- Cubs, 2 yr. $10M
Tyler Chatwood- Cubs, 3 yr. $3.8M
Luckily, the top free agents of the class are still looking for a new home. Here are five potential fits for the Sox, with their 2017 numbers included:
1. Jake Arrieta
14 W 3.53 ERA 2.9 BB/9.
Who said you can’t have too many aces? Boston loaded up with Price, Pork and Sale, so they may as well add a fourth. Arrieta would bring something to the rotation they’re sorely lacking: postseason pedigree. He’s 5-3 with a 3.08 playoff ERA for his career, including a complete game, and nearly a 4:1 strikeout/walk ratio. A right hander, he’d break up the gluttony of southpaws. Coming off a down season where he recorded only 168 innings, and now 31 years old, this curries favor for potential suitors, as he can’t demand the money he would have had he’d been a free agent in 2015 or 2016. But, we’ll see what Boras has to say about that.
2. Andrew Cashner
11 W 3.40 ERA .8 HR/9
The 6’6″ righty would join what I can only imagine to be the tallest rotation in baseball, and is coming off a bounce back season with Texas… which is no pitchers paradise. Cashner relies on keeping the ball down and batters off balance, which would be a huge change of pace from the slew of fireballers Boston offers. He held batters to a .170 average with men in scoring position, so it’s not a stretch to think he could handle the pressures of Fenway.
3. Yu Darvish
10 W 3.86 ERA 209 SO
The Japanese righty resurrected his season following a trade to the pennant winning Dodgers, posting a 1.1 WHIP and winning four of his nine outings. Darvish has been an All-Star in each season in the majors, barring his 2016 campaign where he made only 17 starts. He can likely be had for $13M or less, considering he’s not of the ‘number one’ starter status.
4. Jason Vargas
18 W 4.16 ERA 32 GS
The soon to be 35 year old southpaw has had a solid 12 year career, putting up 85 wins with five clubs, and doing his best work in the American League. His league leading win total is more of a ’16 Rick Porcello aberration, but he’s a steady arm for the mid to back end of any rotation, and performed well in the Royals 2014 playoff run. He had a huge first half in 2017, but tailed off in August. Could he regain his early season form?
5. Alex Cobb
12 W 3.66 ERA 179 IP
The career Ray holds a 19-13 record against the A.L. East, doesn’t have the track record to demand huge dollars, and has only lost once, ever, at Fenway. He doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his arm, sitting at exactly 700 innings, and over his career has averaged 0.8 jacks allowed per 9. He’s not the most glamorous choice, but he may be Boston’s best fit.