Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz discusses trade rumors


Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz discusses the uncertainty of when he thought he might get traded.

The Boston Red Sox made some significant upgrades to their pitching staff this winter, headlined by the signing of free agent starter David Price to a record-breaking deal.

While Red Sox Nation rejoiced in the news that the team finally had a proven ace to anchor their rotation, the addition of Price left the rest of the incumbent staff unsettled. The Red Sox had a surplus of starters that exceeded the number of available spots in the rotation to fill in behind Price, so inevitably something would have to give.

One pitcher left to wonder about his future with the franchise was Clay Buchholz, who joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on his podcast this week to discuss the uncertainty he felt about the rumors that circulated early in the offseason that he could be traded.

"“Whenever you go out and get someone like David, that’s putting a lot of weight on his shoulders for reasons that are apparent,” said Buchholz. “He’s the horse that every team wants to have on their staff. But given you do have someone like that, there obviously has to be one person that’s out of the mix.”"

It was an easy choice for the Red Sox to pick up the modest $13 million option on Buchholz’s contract, but doing so didn’t necessarily ensure he would remain in their plans for this season. His team-friendly deal, which includes a $13.5 million team option for 2017, makes him a desirable trade asset as much as his tantalizing talent does.

On the other hand, his lengthy injury history may make the Red Sox hesitant to commit to him long-term. The option years help alleviate that concern, but if they wish to keep him beyond the 2017 season they will find themselves negotiating with a pitcher who will be 33 years old by then, who to this point has yet to make 30 starts or toss 200 innings in a season. If Buchholz isn’t going to factor into their long-term plans and the team needed to clear room in the rotation anyway then exploring trade options was a viable solution.

Instead the Red Sox ended up trading Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Carson Smith, which helped clear up the log jam in the rotation while bolstering the team’s drastically improved bullpen.

"“I was actually on the phone with Wade Miley talking about the whole Seattle thing, because my name was involved in that, and obviously his name. There were times I was unsure what would happen, but you can’t lose sleep over that. It’s a business and sometimes whenever an organization they have the best chance to succeed by doing one thing, and that’s what they do, you take it with a grain of salt and then you go to another team and try and help them win.”"

Buchholz understands the business side of baseball, but that doesn’t make it any easier to consider the concept of leaving the franchise that he has spent his entire career with since being drafted by the Red Sox in the first round of the amateur draft in 2005. The uncertainty of not knowing where he would be pitching next season was most unsettling, as trade rumors became impossible to ignore. He went on to describe a period of about a week or two where he was texting his agent non-stop trying to find out what was going on, but it wasn’t until the Miley trade was finalized that Buchholz was finally able to relax knowing he’s expected to remain in Boston for at least one more season.

This season Buchholz finds himself in a familiar scenario. If he performs well then the Red Sox will surely pick up his option again, but if he misses significant time again due to injury or has another disastrous year like he did in 2014 then he’s likely to be dumped into the free agent market with little leverage to negotiate his next deal.

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The future remains cloudy, but Buchholz can now prepare for spring training without the burden of trade rumors hanging over him. At least for now.