The injury bug has plagued the Red Sox starting rotation, but will the front office pursue outside help?
For the early parts of the season, the Red Sox rotation was a strength. There were solid outings from the majority of the rotation and the usual dominance of Chris Sale, but the starters have begun to show flaws.
Drew Pomeranz struggled early on and ultimately has been on the DL for multiple weeks. Steven Wright dazzled, but was sent back to the DL with a knee injury. Eduardo Rodriguez has enjoyed one of the best seasons in his career, but was sent to the DL with an ankle sprain. David Price strung together a run of quality starts, but was blasted by the Yankees. Rick Porcello has the wins, but has shown the inability to keep the ball in the yard at times.
There are question marks, but does it truly mean the Red Sox are pursuing outside help?
Tier One: Buyer Beware / Available Veterans
First, it’s worth noting that there is not a plethora of available starters with solid track records to be had. There is the available field of J.A. Happ, James Shields, Matt Harvey, Nathan Eovaldi, or Tyson Ross. It’s likely that all of the mentioned pitchers will be dealt, but the return on investment is not likely to justify the cost, or provide a definite upgrade over the current rotation.
Tier Two: The Expensive Young Guns
After the first wave, there are the young, controllable options such as Michael Fulmer, Zack Wheeler, Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy, or Kevin Gausman. The young guys are far more desirable and reside on teams that are likely to try to sell during the Trade Deadline. In order to acquire a player of this caliber, the Red Sox would likely need to part with a top prospect, or a package of mid-level talent. The downside in Boston is that three of these names are in the AL East and are unlikely going to be sent to a division rival, while the other two have had mediocre seasons on their respective clubs.
Do Fulmer or Wheeler truly present an immediate upgrade? Not really.
Tier Three: The Buyer’s Prize
The final tier is the prized arms of the New York Mets: Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. These two players would have to require a king’s ransom in order to obtain the services of a potential NL Cy Young candidate, or a hard throwing ace. It’s very clear that the Mets don’t want to trade either of these young arms, but if they were blown away by an offer they may need to act on being enticed. At this point, the Red Sox would need to drain every last ounce of talent in order to obtain deGrom or Syndergaard and it’s unlikely that the Dave Dombrowski would further damage the farm system.
Despite the lack of overall appeal of the available starting pitchers, the Red Sox may be more inclined to pursue a World Series proven talent in Cole Hamels. The veteran lefty has had a modest season in Texas (5-8, 4.36 ERA) and is still owed quite a bit of money ($22.5 million with a $20 million option for 2019) – enough to put the Red Sox over the luxury tax. Yes, the Red Sox have a plethora of lefties, but Hamels’ experience is unmatched in the available market.
It’s very likely that the Red Sox could put together a package of prospects and Major League ready talent that would entice the Rangers to send the veteran to Boston. Dave Dombrowski would have to be creative in a deal, whether that be sending an additional prospect to encourage Texas to eat salary, or merely absorbing the cap hit and save more prospects.
A deal with Texas could likely include Adrian Beltre as well, but it’s not clear how much that would impact a return in a deal. Either way, this deal would have a similar feel to the Jake Peavy deal in 2013 that sent Jose Iglesias out of Boston.
The Red Sox certainly don’t have an immediate need for a starting pitcher, but acquiring an experienced arm, such as Hamels, could be the final piece that would solidify the postseason rotation.