The decision on what to do with pitcher Aaron Cook must be made in the next few days.  ..."/> The decision on what to do with pitcher Aaron Cook must be made in the next few days.  ..."/>

Should the Red Sox Consider Trading Aaron Cook?

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The decision on what to do with pitcher Aaron Cook must be made in the next few days.  The deadline is May 1 and if Cook is not on the Red Sox major league roster Cook can opt-out of his contract with hopes to be picked up by another club.  Something is almost guaranteed to happen.

Cook has been tearing it up in AAA Pawtucket as a starter and is set to make what is sure to be his final minor league start on Saturday night.  Heading into the game Cook is 3-0 with a microscopic 1.33 ERA through 27 innings of work.  His WHIP is an impressive 1.11 and has even gone the distance in two games, proving his health is in the rear view mirror.

But with a turn around in the big club’s rotation Cook may not have an exact fit, at least not yet.  Jon Lester and Josh Beckett aren’t going anywhere and Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard are doing everything asked of them as young starters.  Clay Buchholz is struggling but what options do the Sox have with him. The bullpen?  Not likely.  Daniel Bard has all but cemented his feet in the starting role so any chance of him taking over the closer role can be put to rest, at least for the next month or two.

Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports that manager Bobby Valentine and pitching coach Bob McClure are looking at creative ways to use Cook and have approached management about the possibility of using him in the bullpen.  Not a bad idea, for now.

According to MacPherson, the last time Cook had regular work out of the bullpen was in 2003.  He’s groomed as a starter and is gearing up to do just that.  Middle relief would be as close to a starting role as anything out of the pen for Cook, but even then the need to locate pitches and get outs is immediate versus starting he would typically have a few innings to get into the groove (barring he didn’t give up multiple runs in those innings).

Trading Cook is an option that might bode well for Boston.  If Cook is promoted before his opt out dates and provides solid relief from the pen, a deal in early June suddenly becomes a nice option.  Of course that depends on what Lester et al are doing at that point and providing the rest of the bullpen can get the outs that are needed.  It may be a little early to write off Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester and given their track record they should rebound nicely and lower their ERA, helping the Sox win more games in the future. So a rotation spot may not open any time soon for the former Rockies pitcher.  MacPherson reports that there is nothing in Cook’s contract that would prevent the Sox from trading him.

Many teams will be looking for starting help by June or July and a 33-year old veteran that can prove he’s healthy and deliver the goods on the mound would seek a nice package in return.

With Daisuke Matsuzaka expected back in the next month the Red Sox will have some difficult decisions to make.  But one easy one to be made right now is to not let Aaron Cook walk away for nothing.  Bring him up to the big club on May 1 and use him in the bullpen unless Buchholz continues to struggle.  Having too many quality pitchers is a nice problem to have, especially given that injuries have found a way to deplete this club over the recent years.

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