Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Monday, November 13, 2017

Red Sox May Seek Starting Pitching This Offseason

The conventional wisdom says the Red Sox will sign, or trade for, one or two sluggers this offseason to upgrade the team's offense. After all, the club finished last in the American League in home runs this season for the first time since 1930.

However, Boston could seek to stabilize, if not upgrade, its starting pitching this offseason. That’s because the health of some players (David Price, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez) remains uncertain and the contract status of a number of starters is short term.

Price and Pomeranz could both exit after next season, while Porcello and Sale could be gone after the 2019 season.

Here's a look at the contract status of the Boston rotation:

David Price LHP
7 years/$217M (2016-22)
Can opt out of contract after 2018 season

Rick Porcello RHP
4 years/$82.5M (2016-19)

Chris Sale LHP
5 years/$32.5M (2013-17), plus 2018-19 options

Drew Pomeranz LHP
1 year/$4.45M (2017)
Pomeranz is arbitration edible for the final time this offseason and will become a free agent after the 2018 season.

Steve Wright RHP
1 year/$0.5935M (2017)
Wright is arbitration eligible for the next three years and will become a free agent after the 2020 season.

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
1 year/$0.5843M (2017)
Rodriguez is under team from control for the next four years and will become a free agent after the 2021 season.

To be clear, the Red Sox are not in a desperate situation right now. They’ve got their full rotation under team control for next season. It’s at this time next year, however, that things will get murky.

Yet, given the health concerns of Price, Rodriguez and Wright, Boston may seek some certainty/insurance for the upcoming season, as well as for the years ahead.

There aren’t a lot of top-level arms available on the market this offseason, but Jake Arrieta (age 31) and Yu Darvish (31) are regarded as the top two. Each of them will likely seek a contract in the range of five years and at least $100 million. That is likely beyond the cost Boston is considering.

Other free agent starters that will draw interest from the market include Lance Lynn (30) and Alex Cobb (30).

Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb all received and rejected qualifying offers, meaning a signing team will lose its second-round pick, as well as $500,000 from its international signing bonus pool.

Of course, Dave Dombrowski could also circumvent the free agent market and instead engage in a trade. However, the Red Sox have already drained many of their top-level prospects in recent trades for Sale, Pomeranz and Craig Kimbrel.

While it’s more likely that the Red Sox will sign free agent hitters such as JD Martinez and Carlos Santana this offseason, we cannot rule out the possibility that they will attempt to shore up the rotation for 2018 and beyond.

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