The Red Sox’ first few options to repair the holes in their starting pitching rotation will probably be familiar:
Pawtucket lefty Roenis Elias will get a chance, Joe Kelly will probably get another chance and Clay Buchholz will probably get a 429th chance.
If you’re expecting any of them to seize that chance, well, you’re either more optimistic or delusional than most Red Sox fans that I know. Probably both, actually.
It’s logical to presume that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski – a wheeler-dealer by nature – will trade for a starting pitcher sometime before the July 31 deadline.
It’s also presumed that Rich Hill, the 36-year-old Milton native who rejuvenated his career with the Red Sox last September before signing with the A’s in the offseason, and his Oakland rotation-mate, the acclaimed Sonny Gray, are two pitchers who will be high on Dombrowski’s wish list.
That presumption is so prevalent right now, actually, that Hill and Gray (who has had a mediocre season by his standards, but is much less likely to be dealt) sometimes seem to be the only names Red Sox fans mention as potential acquisitions. Especially now that the vastly overrated James Shields, who is basically a Rick Porcello clone at this point, has been traded to the White Sox.
Maybe Hill or Gray ultimately will be acquired by the Red Sox. But they’re not the only two pitchers Dombrowski should be eyeballing.
Here are 10 other pitchers – relievers included, since the Red Sox also need bullpen reinforcements – who deserve some degree of consideration as a potential pickup:
Yordano Ventura: After the Royals’ talented and exasperating 25-year-old fireballer incited a brawl by drilling Manny Machado on Tuesday, the Orioles’ Adam Jones said: “He wants to be Pedro Martinez.” I’m not sure how that’s a bad thing, though Ventura does seem rather misguided when it comes to appropriately putting a scare into a hitter. He’s been a knucklehead, but he’s a talented knucklehead who lights up the radar gun. If the Royals really are sick of his act, there are worse ideas than bringing him to the place where his idol thrived. What better place to teach him how to really be like Pedro than Boston?
Zack Greinke: The Red Sox already have one mildly frustrating ace who hit the free-agent megabucks over the winter. What the heck, why not trade for the other one who did the same? Grienke signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks on Dec. 8, four days after David Price signed his seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox. Greinke has been decent for the Diamondbacks, with an 8-3 record and a 3.84 ERA; and he’s been at his best lately (1.95 ERA over his last five starts). Still, it’s a far cry from his otherworldly performance with the Dodgers last year (19-3, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP), when he was so sensational that sometimes it seemed like Clayton Kershaw was the team’s No. 2 starter.
Think this is unlikely? So do I. There’s no way the Red Sox are tying up $400-something million in two over-30 pitchers. But Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron made an interesting case for it not being that unrealistic in a May 31 column:
The Red Sox would probably be the first team to call … and have the financial capability to take on most of Greinke’s remaining contract; adding Greinke to David Price would give the team the best chance to send David Ortiz off in style this October. With [Clay] Buchholz wanting to start, a deal centered around swapping him and Greinke — with Boston sending other pieces as well, depending on how much of the contract Arizona wanted to keep on their books — could potentially benefit both sides.
Wait, you mean they’d get rid of Buchholz in the deal? All aboard, then. That would be worth the $200 million outlay alone.
Daniel Hudson: Now here’s a D-Backs pitcher who is more likely to be dealt. I like this idea, too. Hudson, who was limited to just 12 appearances from 2012-14 after enduring two Tommy John surgeries, has been electrifying in a bullpen role for the Diamondbacks this season (1.52 ERA, 0.76 WHIP). He’s not the strikeout pitcher Carson Smith was supposed to be, but he could be a reasonable facsimile, and he’s a free agent at season’s end.
Julio Teheran: According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Braves want a major-league hitter of similar age and quality to Teheran, a 25-year-old right-hander with a 2.85 ERA this season. That sounds like Jackie Bradley Jr. to me, and that’s not happening. It’s tough to tell how good Teheran really is, too: He’s allowed 12 homers in 82.2 innings, and his FIP (4.14) encourages skepticism about how he would fare in the American League.
Doug Fister: The 32-year-old Astros sinkerballer has been a rewarding in-season pickup for Dombrowski before. His Tigers acquired Fister from the Mariners before the 2011 deadline, and he promptly went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts down the stretch. He also has an impressive postseason resume, with a 2.60 ERA in nine games and 55.1 innings. His FIP is considerably higher than his ERA this year (4.68 to 3.34) and he’s given up nine homers in 72.2 innings, so there is an element of buyer-beware attached. But this would make a lot of sense.
Aroldis Chapman: I know, the Red Sox and Yankees rarely make trades. And New York has shown signs of life recently, reaching .500 on Thursday (30-30) and trailing the Red Sox by just 4.5 games in the division entering the weekend. But Chapman and Kimbrel would be a decent late-inning tandem, no?
Andrew Miller: I still know the Red Sox and Yankees rarely make trades. But hypothetically, do you think they’d take Eduardo Rodriguez for him? That is what the Orioles gave the Red Sox for Miller as a rental two years ago. I think they would. The Red Sox would not, however. Thanks for that one, Ben Cherington.
Jeremy Hellickson: I bet you forgot he was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2011, didn’t you. It’s true: He went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 189 innings for the Rays. (Craig Kimbrel was the NL ROY the same year, though WAR suggests it should have been … Vance Worley? Not a great year for rookies.) He hasn’t had a season that good since, but has enjoyed something of revival this year with the Phillies (3.80 ERA entering his start Friday night). The Red Sox can probably do better, but one could argue there are worse options already on the 40-man roster. I could be talked into trading Henry Owens for him.
Ervin Santana: His most similar pitcher through age 32 is John Lackey. That’s pretty good. He’s 1-6 with a 4.77 ERA for the Twins this year. That’s pretty bad. He’d probably be available. He’d definitely be uninspiring.
Jose Fernandez: Ah, yes. The Red Sox fan’s designated pipe dream of the moment, though with Trader Dave in charge, I suppose we shouldn’t completely dismiss anything. If there’s someone worth overpaying for …
Still, if you don’t believe acquiring the Marlins’ 23-year-old ace is a step beyond impossible, consider this comment a Marlins official made to Peter Gammons in December:
“We thought we might be able to piece something together with the Red Sox. With ERod [Eduardo Rodriguez], Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, Yoan Moncada, and another pitcher I thought we had something that might work.”
Consider that steep price – I wouldn’t trade Betts straight up for Fernandez – and then consider this: That came in December, when he had just returned that season from Tommy John surgery. He’s been extraordinary this year – he’s 9-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 74.2 innings – and that means the price has probably only increased from the already absurd request. No, Marlins official, you can’t have Xander Bogaerts too.
Might be a good time to ask them about Giancarlo Stanton, though.