10 Starting Pitchers the Boston Red Sox Are Considering for 2012
The Red Sox have three rotation spots locked up between Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Spots No. 4 and No. 5 are completely up for grabs though. Boston isn't hurting for a lack of options, whether through free agency, via a trade or even internally.
A lot of chatter came out of this week's winter meetings in Dallas but—in the Red Sox camp, at least—there was no action.
Here are 10 starting pitchers the Boston Red Sox are considering as they look to fill out their rotation for 2012.
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Gio Gonzalez is likely on top of GM Ben Cherington's rotation wish-list. ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox are "extremely high" on the A's lefty. With Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson off the table, Cherington has company.
Gonzalez' stats the past couple of seasons are solid enough—65 starts, 3.17 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 8.2 SO/9—but he's especially attractive because of his age (26). With just a little over two years of service time, Gonzalez is under club control through 2015.
Grabbing Gonzalez from the A's will likely require a big package of prospects, however, which isn't the easiest trick for Boston after the blockbuster Adrian Gonzalez trade last winter.
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Like Gio Gonzalez, trading for the Cubs' Matt Garza, 28, would seem to be a tall task, especially with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer running the show on the North Side.
Garza enjoyed his first season in the NL in 2011. He lowered his ERA, allowed fewer home runs and struck out more batters.
While this statistical improvements are the expected result of leaving the AL East, the fact remains that Garza was a good pitcher during his three seasons with the Rays.
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The White Sox haven't made much noise, but they may try to shop some of their quality rotation arms, chiefly lefty John Danks, who'll turn 27 next April. He's drawn interest from both the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Danks reportedly has denied Chicago's recent offers at negotiating a contract extension. It isn't surprising that Danks has little desire to get a deal done this offseason. He is entering his final season of arbitration and had a down year in 2011.
With five full seasons in the bigs under his belt, Danks is a quality veteran arm that wouldn't cost the Red Sox the farm. Much more than Gio Gonzalez or Matt Garza, John Danks is a realistic candidate.
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Another likely trade candidate for Boston is another White Sox, Gavin Floyd. Floyd will be 29 next Opening Day.
Floyd is a little older than Danks and he doesn't have a stat line as sharp as Danks, either. He is durable, though, with four straight seasons of 30+ starts.
If the asking price for Danks is higher than Boston likes—which may very well be the case—Floyd becomes a more attractive candidate.
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The Red Sox may have an interest in the Astros' Brett Myers, who's put together consecutive seasons of 33 starts and 215+ IP in his two years in Houston.
2010 was a career year for Myers. He recorded a 3.14 and going 14-8 on a 76-win team. His 0.8 HR/9 was well below his career 1.3 HR/9, suggesting he may have benefited from a bit of luck.
Indeed, Myers fell back to Earth this season, with a 4.46 ERA and a HR/9 of...exactly 1.3. His true average likely lies somewhere in between his past two seasons. (His career ERA is 4.24.)
Myers has shown an effective reliability the past two seasons and getting his kind of innings on the back end of the rotation would be stellar. Myers is owed $11 million next season however, Houston reportedly would be willing to eat some of his contract, tweets CBS Sports' Danny Knobler.
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GM Ben Cherington was pretty adamant that the Red Sox will not pursue big-name free-agent pitchers to fill out their rotation. With Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson off the table, the market for lesser free agents will now begin to heat up. Enter, Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt, 34, struggled with his back last season and is likely contemplating retirement. It's a safe bet, however, that he's still got some fire in his belly.
The Red Sox can offer Oswalt a similar situation to what he had in Philly, in that Boston is a contender where Oswalt wouldn't have the pressure of anchoring a rotation. The Sox would do very well for themselves to sign Oswalt, who they could likely secure for no more than $9 million.
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Yu Darvish has been officially posted by the Nippon Ham-Fighters. Teams have until next Wednesday to make their bids to negotiate with him.
GM Ben Cherington said he's "not sure the timing" puts them in a place to contend for Darvish, as quoted by ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes.
The Sox are also surely timid to go down the posting road given their history with Daisuke Matsuzaka and they do not have a pressing need for a top-shelf ace. Nonetheless, Boston has the money to be a player in the hunt for Darvish.
Furthermore, Bobby Valentine "likely knows the pitcher as well as anyone working for a major league club, having managed against him in Japan," writes FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi.
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After a terrific 2011 in which he served as the team's dynamite long-man and a spot starter, Alfredo Aceves will likely get a chance to compete for rotation spot next spring in Fort Myers.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Aceves' 114 innings last season were easily a career high and there's even statistical evidence that suggests that, as good as he was last season, he wasn't that good.
However the Red Sox will undoubtedly feel a bit forced to reward their one pitcher who didn't totally implode in September. If Aceves secures a starting job in 2012 it will be interesting to see whether he's able to hold on to it and perform as well in that role as he did this past season in a relief role.
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It's a bit difficult to see what makes the Red Sox think Bard will be more useful to them in a starting role. Sure, Bard's got a decent slider and a middling changeup, however his real strength lies in his blazing fastball. Would he be able to throw his fastball as often and as hard as a starter? Likely not.
Even more so than the debate about Alfredo Aceves' role, the open status about Bard is head-scratching and distracting. Even if Bard is not going to be their closer, he is still best used in a relief role.
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It ain't over 'til it's over, but it sure looks like it's over for Tim Wakefield in Boston.
GM Ben Cherington has not explicitly ruled out Wake's return, however it appears that both Wakefield and Jason Varitek aren't part of the team's 2012 plans.
Cherington spoke on both veterans on Tuesday, as quoted by ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes:
"I have spoken to both and we’re not ready to commit to anything. I have spoken to both, and plan to talk to them both again. I certainly will do so before we make any final decision. I have a great deal of respect for both and feel like the best thing for the team and the best thing for them is, if there’s not a real role on the team, I’m not sure it’s fair, I’m not sure it’s the right thing for them or for the team, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet."
Seems pretty clear that the Red Sox are ready to move on without their aging knuckleballer.