Boston Red Sox trade target: Mat Latos


The Red Sox’ need for starting pitching is well-documented as they are expected to pursue at least one, and probably two, quality starting pitchers. Some of those arms could come from the free agent market as former ace Jon Lester and oft-cited target James Shields are likely the best available pitchers. If the Red Sox are unable to acquire a top-flight starter on the free agent market, however, they could look to trade for an ace and, if they go that route, Mat Latos could be an interesting name.

Latos broke onto the scene with a 2.92 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 31 starts for the Padres in 2010. He has yet to replicate quite that level of success again and develop into a truly ace-caliber pitcher but Latos, now a member of the Reds, has still developed into a very solid starter.

His 2014 season was somewhat derailed by injuries as he missed almost the entire first half of the season after undergoing knee surgery. When healthy, Latos still managed a solid season in Cincinnati, though. In 16 starts for the Reds, he posted a 3.25 ERA, although his 6.5 K/9 was the lowest such mark of his career. Even with the decrease in strikeouts, however, there’s nothing wrong with his 3.65 FIP (particularly pitching in a major hitters’ park) and his command remained excellent as Latos walked just 2.3 batters per nine innings, the best of his career.

Despite Latos’s recent success and youth (he will be 27 on Opening Day next year), however, the Reds could be looking to trade him this offseason. The Reds have a surplus of pitching and a deficiency of outfielders, which matches up well with the needs of the Red Sox, who have the exact opposite situation.

Perhaps the power-starved Reds would be interested in a swap of Latos and Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes, who slashed .260/.301/.450 provides ample power from a corner outfield spot and would be a good fit in Cincinnati’s lineup.

Both Latos and Cespedes are slated to be free agents after the 2015 season and, in an ideal situation, the Red Sox would be able to extend Latos before he ever hits free agency. Considering his youth and consistent success at the Major League level, the Red Sox would likely be comfortable signing him to a lucrative deal. A Cespedes-for-Latos swap would be beneficial to both the Red Sox and the Reds and it makes a lot of sense for them to pursue a trade this offseason.