Buy! Pitchers the Red Sox can trade for at deadline
Buy! Pitchers the Red Sox can trade for at deadline
By Jimmy Toscano
CSNNE.com Red Sox Reporter
Contrary to what you've seen, heard, or read about the Boston Red Sox these days, the fact remains they are still very much in playoff contention.
Going into Monday night, they were six games behind from the first-place Yankees in the A.L. East. The two teams will meet in a three-game series this weekend before the All-Star break.
Boston has taken its last three series, two against A.L. East opponents and one against the A.L. West-leading Astros, and appears to finally be turning a corner. It's still reasonable to believe the Sox can go on a run and get themselves in the thick of a division race.
While many baseball pundits think the Red Sox should sell high on Clay Buchholz and blow up the team, I disagree. Instead, it feels like the Sox should bolster the rotation with another solid starter to go with Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez. And whether or not they acquire a pitcher with years left on his deal, keeping Buchholz for the following two seasons at $26.5 million total is important moving forward.
So now that we've established the Sox are -- or should be -- buyers, who can they go after? Here are 10 players who might be on their radar in some form.
Johnny Cueto, Reds
It's no secret that Johnny Cueto is on the market. He's most likely going to be traded somewhere before the deadline, and he'd make a great addition to any rotation. Currently in the last year of a deal that's paying him $10 million this season, Cueto is 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA. Will the Sox be interested? Probably not. He'd command a steep return, even though he's a rental. Plus, Cueto is going to be 30 entering the 2016 season . . . and we know what that means around here.
Cole Hamels, Phillies
Hamels, like Cueto, has been mentioned in plenty of trade rumors recently and is a candidate to be wearing a different jersey in August. Like Cueto, Hamels won't come cheap in terms of talent surrendered. Unlike Cueto, he's NOT a rental. He's locked up for three more years at $67.5 million, plus a $20 million club option. Hamels is 31, so that may be too old for the Sox. But in a market that saw them pay Rick Porcello $20 million a season, Hamels' deal doesn't look so bad . . .
Chris Sale, White Sox
This would be a massive trade, and it's highly unlikely to go down. But like the rest of the White Sox rotation, Sale could be available. The difference is that he's going to cost a king's ransom, as he's under team control through the 2019 season in what looks like the best contract on the market. Sale will only make roughly $47 million over the next four seasons. For a pitcher already regarded as one of the best in all of MLB, that's exceptional value. If the Red Sox were to pull this off, we're talking serious prospects and young players (players like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Blake Swihart) in return. They might not be interested in that.
Jeff Samardzija, White Sox
There's a good chance the Red Sox have kicked the tires on Samardzija, because there's a good chance every team thinking about buying has kicked the tires on Samardzija. And why not? He's on an expiring deal, and although he's having a down season (4.33 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, down from 2.99 ERA and 1.07 WHIP last season) he's certainly a pitcher that can take a rotation to the next level -- especially if a change of scenery is all that's needed.
Jose Quintana, White Sox
Quintana is a sneaky good option here at the deadline. He flies under the radar on a national level, sitting as he does behind Sale and Samardzija in Chicago's rotation, but Quintana is a reliable pitcher. He's hit the 200-inning mark in each of the last two seasons, and although his numbers have dipped a bit this season, still would slide in nicely to any rotation. In fact, his 12 quality starts this season is tied for second in the A.L. with pitchers like King Felix, Chris Buchholz, David Price, his teammate Sale, and Sonny Gray. Good company. At just 26 years old, Quintana has three more years left on his deal for just over $21 million, plus two club option years for another $21 million.
Ian Kennedy, Padres
Kennedy is your classic rent-a-player this season. His numbers aren't particularly impressive -- 4.84 ERA through 15 starts (80 innings) -- and a hamstring strain forced him to the DL after his first start of the year. But Kennedy had a strong 2014, posting a 3.63 ERA over 33 starts (201 innings) and struck out 207 batters. At 30 years old, the righty probably wouldn't be considered a candidate to re-sign in Boston, but he also wouldn't cost a lot for the remainder of the season.
Andrew Cashner, Padres
The 6-foot-5 Cashner is in the final year of his deal and isn't having the best season: 3-9, 4.06 ERA. Opponents are hitting .276 against him, too, a number much higher than his .245 career average and .235 2014 average. The 28-year-old righty posted a 2.55 ERA last season, but in just 19 starts. Cashner only has one season in which he reached 175 innings, so there are some durability concerns. But there's no long-term risk if the Sox don't want one.
Dan Haren, Marlins
FOX's Jon Morosi reported that Miami has rotation depth to trade, so here we go. If it feels like Dan Haren has been around forever it's because he has. The 34-year-old has played on seven teams over his career. Why can't Boston be the eighth? He's got a 3.45 ERA and 1.05 WHIP and becomes a free agent after this season. Haren hasn't pitched in a playoff game since 2006.
Mat Latos, Marlins
If you're the Red Sox, you might be more inclined to strike a deal for Latos over Haren, seeing as Latos is only going to be 28 next year. Will it cost more to acquire him? Yes. But if the Sox feel there's a chance they could re-sign him to a smaller deal once he becomes a free agent after this season, it could be worth it. Latos had two very good years with the Reds in 2012 and 2013.
Scott Kazmir, A's
Red Sox fans are familiar with Kazmir from his early years with the Rays. But the veteran left-hander is now in the 11th year of his career, and if things continue to go wrong in Oakland, Kazmir, who is in the final year of his deal, will most certainly be on the trade block. With a 2.56 ERA and 1.12 WHIP this season, he won't come cheap and the Sox probably aren't interested.