There are three games until the All-Star Break, the Red Sox are currently 5.5 games out of first place in the AL East and are the same distance back in the Wild Card race. This team had the potential at the beginning of the season to contend for a postseason berth. That dream died for a few fans in June and April but now this team is one move away from taking over the AL East for the second half of the season. The difficult decision for the Red Sox front office is who they could look at getting, and who they have to give up to get the ace that the team desperately needs.
The Red Sox need an ace, and they have players both in the minor leagues and majors to go out there and get the superstar that they need to lead this pitching staff. The list of big name pitchers that will be free agents after this year is long, but their are few that could actually could be available at the deadline. These pitchers include Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds, Scott Kazmir from the Oakland Athletics, and Yovani Gallardo from the Texas Rangers. The team that is most likely to move a starter is the Reds, who are 15.5 games back in the NL Central, likely the best division in baseball. Athletics GM Billy Beane has mentioned Kazmir as potential trade bait, and Gallardo is having a great season in a contract year where the Rangers likely wont be able to retain him in the offseason.
All three of these pitchers are in the top 15 in ERA this season, all under 2.67. Gallardo has started the most games, 18, but Cueto has thrown the most innings, 113.2 in 16 starts. With all of these pitchers becoming free agents after this season if the Red Sox look to trade for them they will want to retain them for many more years instead of having them on the team for a half season rental. With that said, the Red Sox are reluctant to sign pitchers to long term deals when they are older than 30. The perfect example of this is Jon Lester last season. Cueto will turn 30 this offseason, Gallardo will turn 30 just 12 days after Cueto does and Kazmir will turn 32 in January. Kazmir signed his last deal two season ago, averaging $11 million per season and will likely look for a similar contract this offseason. Cueto signed a deal 5 years ago for $36.2 million, averaging $7.2 million per year and will look for a longer and higher paying contract. Gallardo last signed a contract 6 years ago for $43.5 million, averaging $7.25 million per year and he will look for a similar contract in length but will look to make more money.
While it would be nice to have these pitchers, they would come at a cost. Likely a cost that many Red Sox fans would not be overly happy about. At the major league level the Red Sox do not have many players that are overly desirable by other clubs. The Red Sox farm system is a different story, with many prospects at all different levels that many teams would be interested in. At the major league level the biggest asset to a trade the Red Sox have is Brock Holt. He has proven himself to be a utility man who has played 7 different positions this year. While he has been a player that has come off the bench for the Red Sox, he could be an everyday player for teams looking to add a infielder or an outfielder.
At the minor league level the Red Sox will likely have to give up one of their pitchers that are in Pawtucket. Either Henry Owens or Brian Johnson. Owens is the #2 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, and has a 3.72 ERA in Pawtucket this year. Owens was part of the Red Sox 2011 draft class that included; Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart. Johnson is the #6 prospect in the Red Sox organization and currently has a 2.73ERA in 16 games started for Pawtucket this year. Scouts say that he has great potential at the major league level, but that he will never be the ace of a staff. The Red Sox recently called up Travis Shaw from Pawtucket and he has been performing well at first base while Mike Napoli is struggling.
The Red Sox have a lot of other minor leagues that teams will be interested in, but it is safe to say that if the Red Sox want a starter that can lead them to the postseason they will need to package multiple players to get him. Holt could be the centerpiece of a trade that will involve multiple minor leaguers all in an attempt for the Red Sox to save their season and make a run for the postseason in the second half of the year.
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