To me, it is obvious that Oswalt is not coming to the Red Sox. It is also obvious the team needs one more starting pitcher.
Also obvious, they dropped the ball dealing Scutaro. While Mortenson gives them the advantage of having a pitcher with options remaining, he isn’t a very good option for the rotation. The Pawtucket staff has enough depth that it can be set aside for awhile as the Boston rotation is filled out.
I suppose it is possible they know more about Aaron Cook’s health that I know (in fact, they had better know more than me). A healthy Aaron Cook is probably better than most of the remaining pitchers. After Oswalt, free agency has only Rich Harden, Jon Garland, and Javier Vazquez. Harden was a good pitcher, but the problems are obvious. He hasn’t thrown 100IP in a season since 2009. Garland is usually worth more for IP, but is coming off surgery himself. Vazquez, who actually has had success in the AL despite his reputation, is strongly hinting at retirement. So there is only stopgap potential at best among these three.
The trade market has 4 notable names, and numerous worthless ones like Burnett and Peavy. The Nationals are apparently willing to move Jon Lannan. And the Cardinals need to move a SP to make room for Oswalt. If the Sox are not going to get Oswalt anyway, and apparently they are not, they should probably consider taking a Cardinals pitcher off their hands. The three most likely candidates are Lohse, Westbrook and McClellan. Lohse and Westbrook are both fairly similar as pitchers, capable of good seasons as well as horrific onces. Westbrook is owed less money. McClellan is the cheapest of all four, but has less than one season as a starter and should probably be ignored altogether (despite his awesome Frisbee-style curveball).
Lannan ($5mill) ould be had for Ryan Sweeney ($1.75mill), but probably shouldn’t be. Dealing Sweeney either means Ross is a full time RF (and there is no set replacement until Crawford returns), and there is not much left to replace him in the OF. Internal option Kalish is already out. And the rest of the minor league OF is fairly weak, with options like Alex Hassan, Che-Hsuan Lin or maybe Jason Repko. Free agency is not much better, with primary options being Corey Patterson or Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome might abe a good idea to replace Crawford, as he is always good for a monster April, but beyond that he is not a good choice. If the Sox could swing a subsequent deal for Jason Bogusevic of the Astros or Will Venable of the Padres, that would work. Or they could send Lars Anderson to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez in a deal of prospects who have not lived up to their hype, but at least would fill needs. No idea what it would take to get Venable or Bogusevic, but probably more than Anderson.
Lohse ($11mill) or Westbrook ($8.5mill) are much easier to acquire, but the Sox might prefer to send some money back, and the only expendable salary is Bobby Jenks ($6mill), who is hardly worth trading for. The Sox would have to include something to St. Louis for this to work, but anything worthwhile might be prohibitive for Boston. Jenks and Bowden? Sure, but how much more and it’s an overpay? Still, St. Louis has the obvious goal of moving money and a rotation spot for Oswalt, and the Sox do need someone capable of throwing at least 150IP while allowing minimal batting practice. And if the goal for the Cardinals is to move money, taking on Westbrook and including Jenks looks much, much less likely.
Gavin Floyd remains on the radar, but it is looking more and more likely KW simply holds him until July 31.
So either sign Harden or swing the deal. Lannan, as a soft-throwing lefty, is probably the worst fit and the most complicated to accommodate. Lohse is hardly one of my favorite pitchers, but of all the possibilities still out there, might be the best deal if St. Louis simply tries to move him to open a spot and save $5mill without asking for too much talent in return.