Sep 17, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Hamels, not Lester, will be the lefty ace at the front of the Sox rotation. The Phillies have expressed significant interest in Mookie Betts and would likely accept a package that centers on Mookie and a couple hurlers from the Red Sox army of young guns (Eduardo Rodriguez, De La Rosa, Webster, Matt Barnes). Hamels has only four years and $90 million left on his contract, a shorter-term commitment than Lester, and he’s two years younger than James Shields.
McCarthy will be an affordable two or three-year option, given his injury history, and he’s proven that he can pitch in the American League. His best full seasons were with the A’s in 2011 and 2012, and he had a 2.89 ERA with the Yankees last season after struggling in the first half with Arizona.
The mercurial Buchholz is a lock for the rotation next year, as is Kelly, a legitimate middle-to-back of the rotation guy with the potential to be more. That leaves one spot for a young arm, which I believe will go to Ranaudo, the International League Pitcher of the Year, who has the best combination of upside and MLB-readiness of the young guys.