Boston Red Sox Should Acquire Zack Greinke Regardless of Cost

Douglas Sibor@dcsiborContributor IJuly 27, 2012

Zack Greinke would give the Red Sox a true ace for the first time in many years.
Zack Greinke would give the Red Sox a true ace for the first time in many years.Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

On Thursday, Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin confirmed reports that the team will move ace right-hander Zack Greinke before the July 31 MLB trade deadline.

Although they have not been mentioned as one of the pitcher’s most likely destinations, the Boston Red Sox must do everything they can to acquire Greinke.

A free-agent this coming offseason, Greinke would give the Sox a stopper as they look to rise above the pack competing for the AL Wild Card.

Given the high price of acquiring the right-hander, the Sox would certainly want to work out a contract extension before agreeing to a trade. No matter how much they have to pay Greinke, though, if this season has proven anything, it’s that the value of having a true ace on your pitching staff goes beyond mere dollars and cents.

The hugely disappointing seasons of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are the major reason for the Sox’s struggles. The team is a ghastly 12-24 when either Beckett or Lester starts, compared to a 37-26 mark with anyone else on the hill.

Even a mediocre 18-18 record in Josh Beckett/Jon Lester starts would have the Sox’s record at 55-44 and leading the chase for the AL’s second Wild Card slot. Instead, though, the team has languished in the AL East cellar all season because of their starting pitching.

The offense is currently the third-best in MLB, only three runs behind co-leaders Texas and Toronto. The bullpen has been stellar, recovering from their early season struggles to post the fifth-best ERA in MLB.

The final piece to getting this team on the right path is finding a pitcher who can stabilize the rotation. Clay Buchholz has shouldered some of this burden, but he cannot do it alone.

Greinke has proven that he can succeed in the grind of the AL, and would be a perfect complement to Buchholz atop the Sox's rotation both this season and going forward.

His transcendent effort in the 2009 season while with the Kansas City Royals (2.16 ERA, 242 strikeouts, 1.073 WHIP) earned him the AL Cy Young award. He has been exceedingly durable, failing to exceed 30 starts and 200 innings just once (when he broke two ribs playing basketball in the offseason and missed the first month last season).

The issue, as always, is what it would take to bring Greinke to Boston. Undoubtedly, the Sox would have to part with several of their top prospects in order to best the stiff competition they will be facing to acquire the pitcher.

Milwaukee would likely seek a package of both MLB-ready and developmental talent in order to make this deal happen. For their part, the Sox have several prospects that would appeal to Melvin and the Brewers.

The Sox have several young outfielders they could offer, including Jackie Bradley Jr. or Bryce Brentz, two players who have zoomed through the Sox’s farm system and are currently playing for Double-A Portland. Additionally, the Sox could move either Jose Iglesias or Xander Bogaerts, both shortstops who are close to being MLB-ready.

Throw in a pitcher (perhaps Matt Barnes or a lesser prospect like Anthony Ranaudo or Drake Britton) and the Sox would have the framework of a very intriguing deal for the Brewers.

Milwaukee would be getting three players who all have an excellent chance at becoming MLB regulars, and if the Sox were to throw in a current MLB player (perhaps another pitcher such as Junichi Tazawa), they might be able to trump the competition.

This would obviously be a steep price (all the aforementioned players are top-20 prospects in the Sox's organization), but if it means bringing a bona fide ace to Fenway then the cost would be well worth it.

At just 28 years old, Greinke still has many good seasons in front of him. The Sox should do everything they can to ensure he spends them wearing their uniform.