With the additions of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda, the New York Yankees have solidified their starting rotation for the 2012 season. These two additions have given the Yanks a very formidable starting rotation, including CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. A rotation that once lacked depth behind Sabathia now arguably has one of the better No. 2 through 4 starters in MLB.
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox have taken a different approach this offseason. With many big contracts already in place, general manager Ben Cherington has looked for value from players that may outproduce their contracts. The additions of Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon allowed Cherington to replace the back end of the Sox bullpen without increasing payroll significantly.
These moves have allowed the Sox to potentially move both Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves to the starting rotation. The Red Sox made some depth moves by signing Aaron Cook and Carlos Silva.
While Cherington's moves have been creative and resourceful, there can still be moves made to improve the Sox pitching staff. Free-agent Roy Oswalt could potentially be the answer to fill the holes in the roster.
As Buster Olney recently wrote, Oswalt is seeking a one-year deal around $8 million so that he can rebuild his reputation as a top starter. Before the 2011 season, Oswalt was considered one of the best starters in Major League Baseball. He consistently posted three to four WAR seasons with a 3.35 career FIP.
But last season was different for the right-hander, as he dealt with back problems throughout the year. Despite that, Oswalt started showing signs at the end of the year that he is still one of the better pitchers in the league.
With the addition of Oswalt, the Sox would gain flexibility within their pitching staff. Bard is a large question mark as to how effective he can be as a starter and how many innings he can be stretched out to. Also, Alceves may be more valuable to the Red Sox in the role he was in last season than as a starter. Oswalt would allow the Sox to move one of the two back to the 'pen, creating a back end of the bullpen potentially better than the 2011 version.
The largest obstacle that could potentially block the Sox from acquiring Oswalt is the current financial obligations already in place. There are several reports that put the Red Sox at or around the luxury tax threshold. As recently as yesterday, there were mentions that the Sox were unable to afford Kuroda at the $10 million price he signed with the Yankees.
While the Red Sox have been extremely cost conscientious this offseason, the addition of Oswalt could pay major dividends this season. In today's MLB, $8 million is not a lot of money for a team to commit. Cherington and Co. may likely consider other low-cost options, but they must also consider if a player like Oswalt can put their team over the top without the long-term commitment attached.