In the last post we reviewed some available starting pitchers on the free agent market. Now we will scour the rosters of the other major league teams for the front line starter, or two, needed by Boston.
First check out these names:
This are among the names of starters that will be free agents one year from now. Some of pitchers may well re-sign with their current teams in the next year, but if not they may be available in trade this winter for less than you may expect with only the one year of control remaining.
We will go through each division looking for possible trade targets for the Sox. We will examine the names above and many others looking for these candidates for the 2015 Red Sox rotation.
There may be a target or two here ( RA Dickey and Mark Buehrle are on that next year free agent list for example) but no one in the AL East is going to trade a top flight pitcher to Boston.
Tigers- Detroit has both David Price and Rick Porcello on the '16 free agent class above, but if they lose Max Scherzer as expected in this winter's free agency, they may be looking to add pitching not trade it. If the Tigers would listen to offers, Porcello might make a more attractive target due to his age of 26 and likely a lesser package of players in return than Price.
Royals- The AL champs will be looking to add pitching to replace James Shields.
Indians- Despite the emergence of Cory Kluber, Tito's team also could still use more pitching. Danny Salazar would be an interesting target, but I doubt he is available despite his off 2014.
White Sox- Red Sox fans have dreams of getting Chris Sale. The other Sox have less than a zero per cent interest in dealing him. They will trade John Danks, another lefty. The Red Sox should have the same less than zero per cent interest in acquiring Danks.
Twins- Only Phil Hughes would illicit any interest, and the idea of bringing Hughes back to the AL East is chilling. Although it would be a hoot to have the former Yankee phenom blossom in Boston instead of the Bronx.
Possible AL Central targets: David Price, Rick Porcello
Angels- Despite winning the West the Halos are still looking for pitching themselves.
A's- Billy Beane went all in for 2014 acquiring starters Jon Lester, Jason Hammel ( both free agents now) and Jeff Samardzija, a free agent a year from now. Scott Kazmir will also be a free agent in a year. The A's prospect cupboard is lean due to some of these deals, especially sending number one prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs. Between this need to replenish and Beane's always being at the ready to deal, Samardzija and to a lesser degree Kazmir are very likely Sox targets. Samardzija is 30, older than it seems he should be after his years playing football at Notre Dame. Kazmir, 31, is in his "third" career, first a young phenom with the Rays, when he was one of the AL's best. Then his career cratered and he was back in an independent league. Finally in his third stage he pitched for Cleveland in 2013 and Oakland this year, starting for two teams that went to the wild card playoff game.
Mariners- Seattle needs offense and there are some rumors they would like to acquire Mike Napoli. But the M's seem to have pitchers they won't deal ( King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma), guys you likely wouldn't want ( Chris Young) or younger pitchers Seattle may or may not deal for Napoli, ( Roenis Elias, Taijuan Walker , or James Paxton.) If Seattle would trade Paxton for Napoli, the Sox should seriously consider it.
Rangers- Unless Texas decides to shop Yu Darvish or Boston wants to a flyer on Derek Holland, if the pitching starved Rangers would even deal him, there is not much here.
Astros- There is one attractive option here in lefty starter Dallas Kuechel. Only 27 years old, Kuechel had a 12-9 record with an ERA of 2.93 in 200 innings. But eventually the lowly Astros have to stop trading all of their good players. I think they keep Kuechel unless Houston decides it cannot abide a star player named Dallas.
Possible AL West targets: Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Dallas Keuchel, and maybe James Paxton.
Nationals- Despite their division winning 2014, Washington may be looking to deal. Two very attractive trade targets are on our opening list of free agents from a year from now: Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister. Fister has had success in the American League with Seattle and Detroit, and in 2014 had an outstanding 16-6 record with an ERA of 2.41 ( fourth in the NL) . Despite the presence of Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, Zimmerman was the Nats ace. But that same presence of Strasburg and Gio, would allow Washington to deal one of these starters, sign the other and still have a formidable rotation. The Sox have the players to make a deal here, but one issue might be the Nats most pressing need is a second baseman. So unless the Sox will trade Mookie Betts for Zimmerman, for example, the talks may be protracted. The word in the industry is that the Sox hope to keep Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Blake Swihart. Either way Washington is a team I am sure Ben Cherington is calling often.
Braves- Atlanta has attractive, young pitching like Alex Wood and Julio Teheran, but they are not likely available. Instead the Braves are said to be shopping outfielders Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers. Despite Boston's outfield crush of about ten guys, do not be completely shocked if Jason Heyward is the starting right fielder for Boston next Opening Day. On the other hand Kate Upton has a better chance of playing in Boston's outfield than BJ Upton. Justin Upton's chances fall somewhere between Kate's and BJ's.
Marlins- If the Sox decide to pull an under the radar pitching trade and go for a younger talent rather than a big name ace, Miami has "about a dozen" big time arms according to a recent column by Peter Gammons. Among the names who all ready have some big league time are Jarred Cosart, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Brad Hand, and Andrew Heaney. Last winter, the Marlins expressed an interest in Will Middlebrooks, could that be the start of a deal? Now if Miami just had any offensive players Boston would be willing to trade for.
Mets- This is one of the few teams with pitching to trade. With 2013 rookie star, Matt Harvey returning from injury, he joins vet Bartolo Colon, '14 rookie Jacob DeGrom, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, and upcoming rookie Noah Syndergaard. Lefty Jon Niese who will be 28 next year is the most available according to reports. I think the preferred Sox target (assuming Harvey, DeGrom, and Syndergaard are not available) is Zack Wheeler. Wheeler is only 24 and was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA and 187 K's in 185 innings in 2014. The one name most connected to the Mets from Boston is Yoenis Cespedes.
The Mets are looking everywhere for a power hitter for the outfield ( as well as a shortstop). I think it is possible you could get Niese more or less straight up for Yoenis. Wheeler would take Cespedes and probably two more good prospects. Maybe as Cousin Jason suggested a package of Cespedes and Deven Marreo, and then another lesser pitching prospect. If Cespedes was signed for three more years instead of one, you may be able to discuss Harvey or DeGrom, I would be happy to come away with Wheeler.
Phillies- With Cliff Lee injured (and old), there is only one target here. The frequently rumored to Boston ace, Cole Hamels. I agree that Hamels is the most similar pitcher in the game to free agent Jon Lester. And I get the point that Hamels has four years $96M left on his deal, which about what the Sox would have liked to sign Lester for. There are two problems, maybe both are surmountable. First, Lester is a proven Boston commodity, he can pitch and win here. Hamels is not. But I will give you that Philly is no picnic to thrive in either and Cole has. And he has pitched well in October back when the Philies were good. The second, much bigger problem, is the price of acquiring Hamels in players needed to be traded. Ruben Amaro, the Philadelphia GM, is the most out of touch, hard to deal with GM in the game. Last July he reportedly asked for the Cubs top three prospects for Hamels. In other words a package of Bogaerts, Betts, and Swihart or Henry Owens would be comparable. That deal will not happen. The answer to this problem may be Pat Gillick. The long time baseball man has been installed as Phillies president. Gillick has all ready said the Phillies are rebuilding for at least the next two years. Maybe the Phillies would listen to a package of something like Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Sean Coyle, and younger prospect or two.
Possible NL East targets: Jordan Zimmerman, Cole Hamels, Zack Wheeler, Doug Fister, Jon Niese, any Marlins young starter.
Cardinals- I hear St. Louis has a veteran starter with post season success who is pitching for the major league minimum in 2015. Maybe we could get him. Cards have lots of young arms, but no one specifically rumored to be on the block.
Pirates- With Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez free agents, the Buccos will be looking to add pitching not trade it.
Brewers- Two or three years ago, every week a Matt Garza to Boston rumor floated. But his 8-8 '14 campaign in Milwaukee means Garza would only be a fifth starter type and the Sox have those. Yovanni Gallardo, at age 29, would be the prime target here. After winning between 12 to 17 games each year from 2009 to 2013, Yovanni went only 8-11 in '14. But his ERA of 3.51 was actually the lowest of his career. He has also been durable with between 30 to 33 starts in each of the last six seasons. He could be a #2 starter at least in Boston.
Reds- This is the mother lode of potentially available top starting pitching. In the Reds five man rotation they have signed one starter to a $100M contract a year ago, Homer Bailey. All four of the other starters are free agents after the 2015 season: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon. Simon is a 35 year old who unexpectedly joined the Cincy rotation in 2014, and at his age not a trade target. On the other hand Leake and Latos are both just 28, which would make both attractive to the Sox. But Leake is not an ace per se. Latos was traded to the Reds from the Padres at a young age for a big package of top Cincinnati prospects. Latos has suffered some injuries which lowers his value, but it is not out of the question he could a front of the rotation type guy. Cueto is the real prize here. He was a 20 game winner in 2014 with an ERA of 2.25 ( second best to Clayton Kershaw in the NL), and 242 strikeouts in 243.2 innings pitched. His WHIP was 0.96. Cueto is only a year older than Leake and Latos at 29. Trading for Cueto would be the deal most comparable to trading for Pedro Martinez back in the 1990's. Like the Mets, the Reds have a rumored interest in a power hitting left fielder, namely Yoenis Cespedes. Normally acquiring Cueto would cost a bundle in players. But the Reds will not be able to sign Cueto, Latos, and Leake with Bailey all ready at $100M and first baseman Joey Votto with a deal at more than twice the size of Bailey's. That may be all the major deals the mid-sized market Reds can afford. And with Cueto a year from free agency his price should drop some. There was a report this week from a Reds beat writer that Cincy would keep all the pitchers and go for it all in 2015 and let them walk as free agents if need be. I doubt that is a smart way to run a mid sized team, but if true, the red Sox will line up next winter to sign Cueto as a free agent.
Cubs- The only connection to Theo's Cubs and Boston on the pitching front may be competing to acquire the same guys. Lester, Shields, Hamels, et al.
Possible NL Central targets: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Yovanni Gallardo, Mike Leake, Matt Garza
Giants- The only player the Sox and their successors as World Champs will compete for is Pablo Sandoval, no pitching coming from San Fran.
Dodgers- No one available in LA either.
Padres- 30 year old Ian Kennedy is on the one year from now free agent list. He won 13 games with an ERA of 3.63 in 2014 and while he could help fill out the Sox rotation, he is not the ace they need. Some one who could develop into the ace they need soon is the under the radar ( for East Coast fans, at least) Tyson Ross. Ross who turns 28 next April, was 2008 A's draftee. Ross pitched three years in Oakland before being traded to San Diego before the 2013 campaign. His four year record from 2010 to 2013 was 9-26 before blossoming last year with a 13-14 record with a 2.81 ERA and was a member of the NL All-Star team. He started 31 games for the Padres with 195 strikeouts.
Rockies- Unless the Sox want Franklin Morales back nothing here.
Diamondbacks- One intriguing name from our opening 2016 free agent list: Trevor Cahill. Cahill was a young star for Oakland when he was unexpectedly dealt to Arizona two off seasons ago. After winning 53 games in four A's seasons, he has had two poor seasons since his trade: 8-10 and 3-12 in 2014. Cahill would be a big gamble but if picked up cheaply could be a comeback candidate.
Possible NL West targets: Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill
So after this exercise here is a list of twenty possible Red Sox trade targets for this winter. The list is in an order based on desirability to the Red Sox and their realistic availability ( according to various reports). And a bit of the potential cost thrown in the order as well.
1. Johnny Cueto
2. Jordan Zimmerman
3. Jeff Samardzija
4. Cole Hamels
5. Mat Latos
6. Zack Wheeler
7. Doug Fister
8. Tyson Ross
9. David Price ( unlikely to be available, but too good to leave off list)
10. Rick Porcello ( same as Price)
11. Yovanni Gallardo
12. Scott Kazmir
13. Ian Kennedy
14. Mike Leake
15. Jon Niese
16. Dallas Kuechel
17. Marlins Young Pitchers
18. Trevor Cahill
19. James Paxton
20. Matt Garza
While I do believe the Red Sox will be aggressive in free agent pitching market, it is much more likely one or two of the new Red Sox arms come from this list or some other unexpected trade this off season.