There’s a saying in football with regard to passing the ball: There are three outcomes when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad.
A similar thing can be said in regards to Clay Buchholz.
There are three outcomes to carrying Clay Buchholz in a major league rotation, and two of them are bad. More often than not, Buchholz is either missing significant time due to another injury or putting up awful performances such as Sunday’s train wreck. Occasionally Buchholz will show signs of brilliance. But those awesome performances are sporadic and becoming rarer as time goes on.
Going into every season, there is much written about Buchholz finally putting the injuries and inconsistencies behind him and putting up a stellar final line. It’s one thing if writers were referring to a pitcher in his mid-20s, but Clay Buchholz will be 30 on August 14th. It’s time to admit that the guy is what he is: a talented, but frail and inconsistent pitcher who can NOT be counted on to hold down a spot in this rotation.
It was one thing to put up with Buchholz’s act for each of the past seven seasons. His salaries have been rather inexpensive, especially on the scale of a big market team:$396,000 in 2008, $413,500 in 2009, $443,000 in 2010, $555,000 in 2011, $3.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013, $7.7 million in 2014. But his salary will climb to $12 million next season. He also has two $13 million club options for the 2016 and 2017 seasons (with buyouts of $245,000 and $500,000 respectively).
After last night’s disaster, I’m pretty comfortable on assuming that I’m not in the minority in believing that it is time for the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz to part ways. It would be beneficial to both parties. For the Red Sox, it would free up some salary for 2014 as well as another spot for the organization’s many starting pitching prospects. For Buchholz, it would give him a change of scenery and an opportunity to turn things around. If he does that, it would help his chances of getting those options exercised, or perhaps even a more lucrative contract.
The first move the Red Sox should try doing is placing Buchholz on waivers. If a team claims him, Boston should either work out a trade (though the return would be minimal) or let the team take on Buchholz’s contract with no questions asked. If Buchholz passes through waivers, Boston is free to trade him to any team. Perhaps a club will become desperate for another starter down the stretch.
If the Sox are unsuccessful in moving Buchholz in 2014, it would be wise to look into moving him this offseason. Maybe they can acquire a floundering prospect if they agree to eat half of the 2015 salary ($6 million). Maybe they could use that saved salary on bringing Andrew Miller back to Boston and/or another solid reliever or two.
If the club is unsuccessful after both attempts, maybe they should just release Buchholz before the 2015 season. It’s doubtful the Red Sox would go down this route. But if Buchholz is going to continue being frail and inconsistent, most fans would probably be fine with the front office paying the pitcher to just stay away.
The Clay Buchholz Era in Boston has been a mixed bag. To date, the sporadic brilliance has somewhat been worth enduring the inconsistencies and the injuries. But the player is becoming more expensive and the injuries and bad outings aren’t going away. It would be best for both the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz to part ways with one another. And it needs to happen as soon as possible.