When a team goes into camp trying out three players on minor league contracts, one who has never started more than four games in a season and one coming off major surgery, they’re probably not contenders for a spot in the team's starting rotation.
And yet, in Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva, Felix Doubront or Alfredo Aceves, the Boston Red Sox plan on finding their fifth starter for the 2012 season. For a team with seemingly unlimited resources, the Sox’s lack of depth is surprising at best and horrifying at worst.
The team is not entirely at fault for the current state of affairs, as high-priced acquisitions John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are both sidelined while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Lackey will miss the entire season, but Matsuzaka is at least now throwing and is scheduled to return around the All-Star break.
While both pitchers have struggled, they are certainly better options than the current choices the Red Sox are faced with. They have World Series rings (Matsuzaka with the Sox in 2007 and Lackey with the Angels in 2002), and when properly motivated can be very effective pitchers.
The question persists, though, if the Red Sox pitching staff as constituted can be competent enough to keep this team in contention. With so many strong offensive teams that make opponents work for each out, the AL East is brutally tough on pitchers.
If the Sox want to contend, they will need to make a move for at least one starting pitcher. It will ease the pressure on the rest of the staff, and should an injury occur, will give the team an extra body to insert into the rotation.
Roy Oswalt aside, the free agent market is barren of any candidates who can come in and be an improvement over what the Sox already have. If they wish to bolster their starting pitching depth, they’ll need to do it via trade.
Here are 10 candidates the Sox could pursue.