The Boston Red Sox are still trying to figure out who will pitch at the back-end of their starting rotation, with just a few weeks remaining before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
As of now the rotation features Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and then a collection of pitchers who were signed to minor league deals such as Aaron Cook and Carlos Silva.
General manager Ben Cherington recently said that adding another starting pitcher is unlikely, after showing interest and making offers to Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt. Jackson signed with the Washington Nationals and it seems as if Oswalt will choose between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
I attended the Boston Baseball Writers Association of America Awards Dinner just a few weeks ago where Cherington told the crowd that he was content with the current roster. The next day he shipped Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies to clear up payroll that was used to sign outfielder Cody Ross.
If Cherington decides again to make a move, here are some options of players who are still up for grabs.
The Washington Nationals just picked up pitcher Edwin Jackson and are now reportedly shopping John Lannan. Lannan, 26, became a regular starting pitcher in 2007 and has started at least 25 games in every season since.
Adding another lefty into the mix wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the Red Sox. Last season left-handed batters only hit .211 against him despite pitching against many more right-handers. Over 2011 he went 10-13 with an ERA of 3.70.
It wouldn't take a lot to acquire Lannan which should make him an excellent target for Boston. He's a reliable middle of the rotation who just needs more run support. He went 4-13 last season when Washington scored 0-5 runs.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported today that Matt Garza and the Chicago Cubs have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.5 million deal. Knobler, however, questions whether the Cubs or some other team will be paying that $9.5 million.
In his first season since coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays, Garza went 10-10 and posted a 3.32 ERA in 2011 with Chicago. He was two innings away from throwing 200 in three consecutive seasons. He was also three strikeouts away from 200 but the 197 batters that he did strikeout was a new career-high.
Knobler does not list the Red Sox as a potential trade candidate for Garza but he has been on the trading block and among trade rumors the entire offseason. Matt Garza will not be the compensation for Theo Epstein leaving Boston for the Cubs; Bud Selig absolutely won't do that. Boston will need to legitimately trade for Garza if he is going to pitch in Boston in 2012.
Wandy Rodriguez is a nice trade target for many teams but for the Red Sox? Maybe. Conflicting reports between FOX analysts Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal depict how much interest Boston would have in acquiring the lefty from Houston.
If Wandy is traded then his option for 2014 automatically kicks in, guaranteeing him $36 million over the next three seasons. Even the $10 million he is owed in 2012 may be out of Boston's range but he is still someone to consider.
Even though Houston has been horrendous over the last few years, Rodriguez has been one of the few bright spots. He's won at least 11 games over the last three years and hasn't had an ERA of 4.00 or higher since 2007.
According to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, Gavin Floyd should be the Red Sox's primary target at the moment. Edes notes that if a deal with Edwin Jackson didn't happen, which it didn't, and they couldn't agree to a deal with Roy Oswalt, which they won't, then they will try to finds ways to acquire Floyd.
The White Sox aren't looking for top prospects in a deal, as Edes notes, but they would like to acquire two or three prospects with high ceilings. Boston could absolutely figure out a way to get this deal done. They would be getting a former No. 4 overall draft choice who, at only 28 years old, could turn into a good pitcher.
After winning 17 games in 2008, Floyd hasn't won more than 12 games in a season since. His ERA stands around 4.00 and could hit 200 innings within the next few years. If the Red Sox only have to give up two decent prospect, I would see the trade as a steal.
The Tampa Bay Rays' starting rotation is unmatched, at least in the American League. They have the rare combination of youth, speed, and ace-potential. The rotation is led by the "veterans" David Price and James Shields who will welcome pitching prospect Matt Moore. Including AL ROY Jeremy Hellickson, that only leaves one spot in the rotation for two guys.
Jeff Neimann went 11-7 in 2011 after only pitching in 135.1 innings. Wade Davis threw 184 innings and went 11-10. Their ERA's are very comparable and only three years set them apart in age so the question is just who is more likely to be traded?
The easy answer is Davis since he is younger and has comparable statistics to Neimann. Davis threw more innings and had relative success in the difficult AL East. Boston shouldn't have to send that much in return to Tampa Bay since one of these two guys is probably going to come out of the bullpen where he will be underutilized.