Red Sox in house free-agent possibilities for the starting rotation

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 24: Andrew Cashner #48 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 24, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 24: Andrew Cashner #48 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 24, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox rotation resembles the aftermath of a demolition derby, but there are four free agents to be who took the rotation hill.  Just who could be back?

This road has been traveled before by the Red Sox and just recently by Drew Pomeranz who combined injuries and poor performances to scuttle a large – very large – payday in his free-agent season. Pomeranz in 2018 had a final tally for the season of a meager two wins against six losses and a 6.08 ERA.

This followed a 17-6/3.32 season and Pomeranz was on the cusp of riches. His $8.5 Million contract would be multiplied many times over, but what was over was Pomeranz. Eventually a $1.5 million deal with the Giants.

Now Rick Porcello has completed his journey down the same road, but with better results than the ill-fated Pomeranz who is now – to his great fortune – with the Brewers. Porcello’s final statistical inventory is not the type that will produce another sumptuous $82.5 Million four-year deal that the Red Sox gave Porcello. The 14-12 record, 32 starts, and 174.1 innings tossed is the usual Porcello contribution. That, however, is balanced out with some forgettable negatives especially a 1.6 HR/9.

The Red Sox need starters since Porcello is the ultimate in pitching dependability. In Porcello’s 11 major league seasons only twice have his starts been under the 30 mark and only slightly. At soon to be 31 years-old Porcello should have a few years left on arm wear and tear, but it all comes down to the “numbers” and there are two numbers of concern: Red Sox payroll and Porcello’s dismal performance.

Pomeranz signed a low contract simply because of the risk factor both his injury and performance histories. Porcello is and will get more interest in the market and that all circulates around risk versus reward. Just how much of a reward is debatable. As a less than educated guess on possible contracts for Porcello he could get a Lance Lynn three-year $30 Million or an Anibal Sanchez two-year $19 Million.

Andrew Cashner represented several nails in the coffin of the former President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. Cashner – a 33-year-old righty – was having a career year for the beyond dreadful Orioles. Cashner tanked and was excommunicated to the bullpen where he performed with some positive consistency, but what about his chances?

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Cashner – like Porcello and Pomeranz – did everything conceivably possible to devalue his contractual opportunities for 2020. What stood out was a sudden loss of location with a 4.7 BB/9 with Boston versus 2.7 BB/9 for the Orioles for whom Cashner managed a 9-3 record. That record is an amazing accomplishment considering the befuddled approach the O’s had to the grand old game.

Should Cashner come back? What would Cashner be worth? Cashner had the potential for a $10 Million option to kick in but that was kicked away with his every fifth-day meltdown. Will teams look at his O’s or Boston record? Again this will fall into the realm of Porcello with an incentive here, an incentive there, an incentive everywhere as a possibility.

As with Porcello, it all depends on unknown market conditions. The market is similar to the financial markets and is an unknown that is difficult to time. I could see Cashner returning to his crime scene on the mound at Fenway Park for a one-year $5 Million gift. If Clay Buchholz can get a one-year $3 Million it is possible, but knowing baseball expenses a two-year $15.5 million Garrett Richards type contract is possible. A gift I would avoid giving. Then there is Marco Estrada and his one-year at $4 million.

The good news for 32-year-old righty Jhoulys Chacin is he will get playoff money. The bad news is that it will be coming from his service time with the Brewers who are now in the playoffs. Chacin was acquired to help stabilize the rotation, bullpen, or anything that has pitching and – like Cashner – it fell short.

All Chacin managed to accomplish is to give firm evidence on why he was released by the Brewers with four forgettable starts. But Chacin does have some noteworthy accomplishments in his baseball history with a 15-8 record for the 2018 Brewers being front and center. The previous season Chacin was 13-10 and had once managed 14 wins (2013) with the Rockies.

Chacin is the cheap option since he was released by the Brewers and there was not exactly Southby’s Auction House running a special on Chacin. Chacin is potential for a minor league deal with an MLB kick in by picking a date as part of the package. A risk worth taking. but maybe a Jeremy Hellickson one-year $1.3 million is more realistic.

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Another free agent to be is Ryan Weber – a 28-year-old righty who made three starts for the Red Sox. Weber’s three starts were not exactly vintage Roger Clemens or even Julian Tavarez, but Weber is cheap and a minor league deal offers some Pawtucket (AAA) insurance. The options are there for the Red Sox but it will come down to who’s sitting in the GM’s chair and what their marching orders are from the ownership suite.