According to Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, Sox management has been in nearly every pitching conversation during the off-season, including R.A. Dickey.
When Boston talked with the Mets during the Winter Meetings both teams were very specific, according to a report by the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber. As with other teams, a conversation with the Mets involving center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury would have to include a top of the rotation pitcher. That’s what Boston thought the Mets were looking for. What the Mets were actually looking for were as many cream of the crop prospects as they could get. The Mets wanted top Sox prospects shortstop Xander Bogaerts and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
With the specter of Ellsbury departing after the 2013 season, Boston wanted to hold fast to Bradley, an elite athlete who hit .315/.430/.482/.911 in 128 games in Single A Salem and Double A Portland.
Stephen Drew will be Boston’s every day shortstop in 2013 and light hitting Jose Iglesias will again start the season in Pawtucket to see if he can ever learn how to hit. With Boston’s premier bargaining chips off the table, it must have been a quick conversation. There wasn’t a match. That was that.
Toronto had other ideas, giving the Mets what they wanted, reportedly agreeing to move 23-year-old catcher Travis d’Arnaud and Class A right-hander Noah Syndergaard for Dickey. Done deal.
Now, on paper at least, it isn’t even an argument about who has the best team in the AL East. The Yankees are getting older and beaten up. Boston will be happy with a .500 season in 2013 after their worst since 1965. Baltimore, surprisingly good in 2012, will be watched closely to see if Showalter and company can turn an upstart single season into a trend. Joe Maddon always get the most out of his team but with James Shields off to Kansas City, Tampa will once again be the hunter and not the hunted.
Toronto appears to have woken up at the end of the season and decided that now is the time. No more biding time. No more rebuilding or waiting. No more looking up at the contenders. They spent a ton and free wheeled their way into instant contention, buying talent wholesale (Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Dickey) and taking on some risk (PED poster child Melky Cabrera). Soon enough the AL East and baseball fans across the nation will find out if the gamble was worth it. Will the players measure up? Will they avoid the cruel fates of injury?
In the meantime, the search to put a viable Sox starting rotation grinds on.