The Boston Red Sox, as the Inquisitr has discussed many times in previous "Red Sox Rumors" reports, need a front line starting pitcher this offseason. In fact, they need more than that — they need to fill out their entire rotation. After dealing away four of the team's five regular starters before the July trade deadline, Boston General Manager Ben Cherington granted auditions to an aspiring cast of highly-touted mound prospects — and none of them passed.
So why would the Red Sox want to trade away their best starting pitcher, the last remaining member of the rotation that brought Boston its remarkable World Series championship in 2013? According to rumors floated in the Boston press, the Red Sox may be considering exactly that — and it could happen as soon as next week, when Cherington heads to the annual Major League General Manager's Meetings in Phoenix, Arizona.
While the ensemble of Anthony Renaudo, Allen Webster, and Rubby De La Rosa all displayed promise in the final two months of Boston's disastrous 2014 season, none of them proved ready for the bright lights and big city just yet. But if nothing were to change between now and Opening Day 2015, that trio would comprise three-fifths of the Red Sox starting rotation.
The Red Sox have other pitching prospects, of course, like Henry Owens, Edwin Escobar, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Barnes, but if any of them sees a Major League start next season, it'll be his first.
The Red Sox' 2015 top two starters would be the solid-if-not-spectacular Joe Kelly, one of Cherington's trade deadline acquisitions from the St. Louis Cardinals. And, at the top of the rotation — one of the most confounding and frustrating pitchers the Red Sox have had in years, maybe ever.
His name, of course, is Clay Buchholz, and in some ways it seems like only yesterday that the tall Texan was tossing a no-hitter in only his second Major League start, and looking like the next dominant Boston ace.
But since then, the now veteran 30-year-old has been pestered by injuries, and according to many on the Boston media and fan base, character issues that have led to a career defined more than anything else by one word: inconsistency.
"He's never pitched 200 innings and has never made 30 starts," noted columnist Chris Villani, writing for WEEI.com. "His apparently fragile body is trumped only by his apparently fragile psyche. He's admitted in the past he struggles to grind out starts when he doesn't feel like he's 100 percent. Now that Buchholz is north of 30, the days of feeling 100 percent may be well in the rear view."
But even if the Red Sox have indeed finally had their fill of Buchholz, Cherington obviously isn't about to just give him away. There's no point in dealing Buchholz without getting significant value in return.
If the Red Sox worked out a pitcher-for-pitcher deal, they could target A's righty Jeff Smardzija, but Smardzija is just a year younger than Buchholz, as is the Reds' Johnny Cueto, who will be playing out a $10 million club option in 2015. The Phillies' Cole Hamels, the most widely-discussed Red Sox rumored trade target, is 30-years- old also — though he has displayed a far higher level of consistency than Buchholz in his career.
By this time next week, Red Sox fans will likely have a better idea of whether the rumors have any substance, and if Clay Buchholz or one of those other pitchers will be wearing a Boston uniform next April.