The Red Sox need to improve their starting pitching. Dave Dombrowski should look to trade for Tigers starter Justin Verlander.
It’s really no secret that this Boston Red Sox squad has some holes that need to be filled if they are going to be a serious contender. They have been a fun team to watch for the first couple months of the season and have even probably over-performed what their expectations were in Spring Training, but their pitching staff doesn’t appear to be the kind of bunch that can get it done in October.
Yes, they’re tied for first place in the AL East, but it’s been very clear that Boston has a magnificent offense that can produce night-in and night-out that seriously beats up on weak opponents and bad pitching.
It’s becoming more apparent by the day that Dave Dombrowski is going to have to do what he was hired to do in the first place – wheel and deal in order to get this team back on track. He got his man in the offseason in David Price, but that was easy when you can just throw John Henry’s moolah at him. Now it’s time for Dombrowski to have the guts to pull the trigger and move some of these prospects we hear so much about. And yes…I know he traded for closer Craig Kimbrel, but I’m talking about making a big-time move mid-season that fills a particular need in order to get over the hump.
Barring a catastrophic injury that removes one of their key components to their dynamic offense, Dombrowski has to look for more pitching. Price has been good this season, but he’s getting paid to be great. Knuckler Steven Wright has been their best starter. He’s been incredible, but I’m not sure that you want the leader of your staff to be a knuckle-baller who has never played that role in his career.
So what can Dombrowski do? It’s difficult to predict exactly who will be available come trade deadline time with the second wildcard allowing a good chunk of both leagues to remain in the hunt, or at least sell that idea to their fans.
BoSox Injection’s very own Brandon Nickel suggested that the Sox pry Sonny Gray from the hands of Oakland. That’s a name Sox fans have heard frequently in relation to someone they would make a move for over the last few seasons. I’m going to toss a name out there that has not really been in many rumors and seems unlikely at first thought, but can become a reality if you look a little closer – Justin Verlander.
The Tigers are currently 31-30 which is good enough for only three games back in the AL Central, but realistically they aren’t actually a candidate to make waves in the playoffs in 2016. Their fans may have to be convinced of that, but I’m not sure it would be too difficult to convince their front office to part with the big-named starter if things completely fall apart for them between now and the All-Star break.
Verlander is due to make $28 million for the next three years and another $22 million for in the fourth year which would take him through 2020. If Detroit falls out of it and wants to make some changes, getting that salary off their books could be a crucial factor. The Red Sox can certainly absorb that salary for the right deal under the right circumstances.
Verlander has a career ERA of 3.53 and a 3.77 ERA this season. He’s 6-5 in 13 games started with a total of 86 innings pitched. He’s pitched over 200 innings in every season except for 2006 and 2015. He has a WHIP of 1.06 and a 1.6 WAR. Some people may think Verlander has taken a step back in the last couple seasons, and that may be the case, but he’s still a number one or number two starter in just about any rotation in the league. He does have an injury history, but it’s been back stiffness, a core injury or a triceps issue that have plagued him and nothing having to do with his shoulder.
The Sox and the Tigers would first have to talk to Verlander and see if he would waive his no trade clause. I’m sure Verlander has a connection to the city of Detroit, but if they are willing to part with him, and he can go to a contender in the AL, I believe he would give the “OK” to send him packing to Fenway. He would also be reunited with Dave Dombrowski.
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So what would it take to get Verlander on a path to a Red Sox uniform? You have to take a look at what the Sox can offer and what the Tigers needs are. They would probably want young pitching in return, so I’m looking at an offer of Henry Owens and another arm – perhaps either Michael Kopech or Travis Lakins. In addition, Boston will need to part with a couple young position players. Jose Iglesias is no longer performing at a high level and has some injury issues, so I would offer up Marco Hernandez. I don’t think that Boston would be so lucky to have Detroit bite on Deven Marrero who is having a rough season, and his value has severely dropped.
They cannot give up Yoan Moncada or Rafael Devers in this type of deal where they would be taking on a ton of salary for a veteran pitcher. Andrew Benintendi is a possibility in my opinion though. Tigers DH Victor Martinez is getting up there in age, so perhaps they look to move Miguel Cabrera to designated hitter and the Sox can send them Sam Travis to take over the responsibilities at first base. Bottom line, Boston has the pieces to get this done without giving up their best prospects.
This move addresses the biggest need for the Sox moving forward for the purposes of winning in 2016 and beyond. A playoff series where you could send Price, Verlander, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello to the mound is most definitely winnable. Sure, there’s a few factors that would have to come together between now and the deadline, but this is one to keep in mind. Plus, it wouldn’t be bad to have Kate Upton running around Boston. There is certainly some risk with the cost and his age, but every trade is about risk versus reward. Bottom line, Dave Dombrowski has to keep all options open and will have to acquire another arm or two at some point if this team is going to be for real.