Red Sox could become involved in free agent pitching market

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: Pitcher Alex Cobb
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: Pitcher Alex Cobb /

Are the Boston Red Sox changing direction? Is there a possibility the team is targeting higher end free agent pitching? Here are three possibilities.

I am mystified by the Boston Red Sox so far this offseason. This is like attempting to decipher the drama of the day when my daughter was a teenager. The possibilities of the next great bat arriving have now been narrowed down to exactly one.

The rest? With Carlos Santana being passed over (too much money), Eric Hosmer being passed over (way too much money) and Jose Abreu being passed over (way too much money and prospects) it comes down to J.D. Martinez. Or does it?

The Red Sox have conveniently or inconveniently have done nothing to strengthen their bullpen or rotation. Even the low-end possibilities such as Mike Fiers, old friend Doug Fister and Yovani Gallardo have been taken off the board. A big ditto to the bullpen pieces such as a Jake McGee, Tommy Hunter or Pat Neshek. The Red Sox remain as stagnate as a Mississippi swamp in August. What gives?

I’ll take a swing and it probably is a swing and a miss. Are the Red Sox setting up for a big-time run at a starting pitcher? Yu Darvish is highly coveted and has many suitors willing to enrich the Darvish clan for generations. Based on the Darvish World Series meltdown he would fit right in with our rotation.

I just can’t get my body to do any cartwheels of joy if the Red Sox choose to make a serious offer to the 31-year-old right-hander. The numbers do not make visions of Pedro Martinez jump out unless we are talking the Pedro that was with the Mets. The two-team line starts with 10-12 for 2017 and the other numbers are yawn-worthy – 3.86 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 10.1 K/9 and 3.99 FIP.

Darvish has little in his history at Fenway Park with just one game in which he somewhat replicated his World Series performance. The rest of his wandering in the American League East is nothing spectacular or a disaster. The sample is just very small. Darvish did have a 3.5 fWAR for 2017 and that could translate into a contract well north of $25 Million for each year.

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The next pitcher of note is Jake Arrieta. Jake has seen some downward trends in performance since his All-World 7.3 fWAR of 2015. Untouchable has started to become touchable. The right-handed Arrieta will be 32-years-old when the 2018 campaign begins and watching his FIP and ERA go in the wrong direction is a caution.

Arrieta issue is a similar one that I have with Darvish – declining numbers and both are over 30-years-old. So, that means I am loaded with age discrimination when it comes to players – especially pitchers. Darvish has already had TJ Surgery and sometimes pitchers don’t skip a beat when 100% and others just fade away. And Darvish may get six years or more.

If you follow the free agent projections the projected price tag for Darvish is 6/$160 million. For Arrieta, it is a projected bargain basement purchase at 4/$100 million. Then you can take a step down and look at Alex Cobb.

Cobb has already had TJ surgery – is it easier to list what pitchers have not? Cobb – a  30-year-old right-hander(that 30 number again)  – was a solid performer for Tampa in 2017 with a 12-10 record and peripherals that come in with a 3.66 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 (attractive), 6.4 K/9, and 47.8 GB%. Cobb finished with a 2.4 fWAR. Cobb is also projected for 4/48 Million. Very affordable. And before I forget – Cobb is 5-1, 3.15 at Fenway Park.

Looking at Cobb and Arrieta both received qualifying offers so that means somewhere a draft choice will disappear. I am still attempting to wrap my head around that process.

Next: Finding a trade partner to take Hanley Ramirez

Pitching is always needed, and the Red Sox rotation has a few questions marks with various degrees of concern. All it takes is a tender elbow, a knee issue or a sudden inability to keep the ball in the ballpark. Depth counts and quite possibly the Red Sox are moving in that direction.
If the Red Sox wander in the higher end free agent pitching market my choice would be Cobb.