May 2, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Could this be Clay Buchholz's last season in Boston?

Expectations were high for Clay Buchholz when he debuted in 2007, and the lanky young right-hander delivered on those expectations with a no-hitter in his second career start. Ever since that high at the very beginning of his career, however, Clay Buchholz’s career has been marked by a series of ups and downs. Buchholz was terrible throughout the 2008 season, even finding himself back in Triple-A Pawtucket, where he began the 2009 season. He was promoted halfway through the year though, and he had some success and since then has been largely good when healthy. However, that health has been a serious problem for Buchholz as he has started in just 56% of his possible starts in that timeframe. After such an inconsistent beginning to his career, it’s certainly possible that the Red Sox could look to trade Clay Buchholz if he does not have a successful and, most importantly, healthy 2014 season.

While Buchholz has been healthy in the early going, he has not been successful in the first part of the 2014 season. Through his first six starts, Buchholz has a 5.63 ERA and has not looked like his usual self. However, his peripherals suggest that his ERA could lower in due time as his FIP and xFIP stand at 4.15 and 4.17. Still, a Buchholz with an ERA in the low 4.00’s is not the Buchholz that we’ve come to know in recent seasons, even if he does stay healthy.

The Red Sox have waited five years for Buchholz to establish himself as a reliable option out of the rotation, and he is yet to deliver. It’s certainly conceivable that the Red Sox could shop him throughout the coming year.

After all, the Red Sox could probably net a fine return by trading Buchholz. He is still relatively young– he turns 30 in August– and obviously possesses incredibly natural talent that made him such a highly-touted prospect several years ago. Buchholz is also signed to a relatively team-friendly contract as his current contract will pay him $7.7MM in 2014 and $12MM in 2015 along with two club option years paying him $13MM and $13.5MM respectively.

Of course, that would also be plenty of incentive for the Red Sox to keep Buchholz, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that option. However, with a wealth of pitching prospects nearly Major League-ready, it makes sense for the Red Sox to at least look over their options in regards to trading Buchholz. I’m not advocating that the Red Sox trade Buchholz, but if he is unable to cement himself as a reliable starter in 2014 then they should at least do their due diligence and keep their options open.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz

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