There may not be much activity in baseball right now, but the one area of movement is exactly where the Red Sox need help -- starting pitching.
The trade of All-Star right-hander Lance Lynn from the Rangers to the White Sox eliminates another possibility for a Red Sox club that's watching the game's most precious resource become a dwindling one.
Lynn joins a group of pitchers who could've appealed to Boston before coming off the board. Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman never even reached free agency, instead accepting a one-year qualifying offer for $18.9 million.
The Braves struck twice, signing left-hander Drew Smyly to a one-year, $11 million deal and right-hander Charlie Morton for one year and $15 million.
Meanwhile, the Royals brought home their own former left-hander, Mike Minor, for two years and $18 million.
Any one of those pitchers could've upgraded the Red Sox rotation, particularly Morton, with his track record of success in Tampa Bay and his reasonable price tag. But the Red Sox watched him sign elsewhere, leading one to wonder exactly when they'll strike.
"I think there are certainly a number of starting pitching options out there of various stripes and also of course there's also the trade market," said general manager Brian O'Halloran. "Yes, you're right, several of those pitchers have signed, but there are plenty of opportunities to delve into that market further. It can either be free agency or a trade. As you all know, starting pitching and pitching in general is an area that we would like to improve and add depth to. We continue to work on that."
Did the Red Sox ever feel close to acquiring one of the pitchers that has already signed?
"I wouldn't want to get into that either way," O'Halloran said.
Even if the Red Sox don't end up in the market for NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, intriguing names still remain available in free agency.
Boston is intimately familiar with Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who won between 11 and 14 games in each of his first six seasons in New York while making a pair of All-Star teams. The 32-year-old is expected to return to New York, but until that happens, he's a possibility.
Sticking with the Yankees, there's also left-hander James Paxton, whose tantalizing talent is routinely offset by injuries. Back surgery delayed the start of his 2020 season and then a flexor strain ended it early. Paxton will likely have to sign a short-term deal, which could put him on Boston's radar.
Next up is former Indians Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. We've already detailed his surprising choice of Winchester as offseason home, and he's one of the highest upside bounce-back candidates on the market. Shoulder troubles limited Kluber to one inning with the Rangers last season, but if he's healthy, it's worth noting that he's only two years removed from a 20-win season.
If the Red Sox want to devote more than one year to an arm, they could be in the market for former Twins and Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi, whose 2020 was cut short after he took a line drive to the ribs in August. Odorizzi won 15 games in Minnesota in 2019 while making his first All-Star team, and he's a known commodity to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from their time together in Tampa Bay.
A true short-term fix could be 2020 Robert Clemente Award winner Adam Wainwright, who has spent his entire 16-year career in St. Louis, but could be set free at age 39. Wainwright has been around so long, he was the centerpiece of the trade that sent J.D. Drew to the Braves in 2003. He showed he still has something in the tank by posting a 3.15 ERA in 10 starts this season and leading the NL with a pair of complete games.
The risk for the Red Sox is that they wait too long to make a move and end up missing out on a player of value. MLB's offseason may be crawling at its typical snail's pace, but starting pitchers are priced to move and the Red Sox don't want to be left out.