Red Sox trades should exclusively target pitching in return

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout prior to a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout prior to a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox may be quite trade active this offseason. Without getting pitching in return it will be a regretful winter and a foundation for failure.

A farewell to arms is not a reference to the Ernest Hemingway novel but the status of the Boston Red Sox rotation. If baseball had a version of emergency road service for starters then Boston would have it on speed dial. This is a central clearinghouse for damaged goods and with the three most notorious offenders – David Price, Chris Sale, and Nathan Eovaldi – it means $80 Million in payroll.

So just where do you get pitching that is less suspect then the above-mentioned trio? The free-agent list is rather extensive, but the real goods are expensive and the cheap ones just potential pitching pinatas. To even make the storm clouds darker and more depressing, the prospect supermarket shelves in the Red Sox system are barren for the foreseeable future.

Does good pitching nullify good hitting? That is a long thought baseball axiom and it certainly has substance. A deep rotation and quality bullpen can bring hitter anxiety to the critical stage. Just tracing back on Red Sox’s success from the days of Cy Young to the present a cornerstone is an ace and preferably plural. And see the playoffs and World Series to see that value. Earl Weaver is correct in his assessment of “Everything revolves around that little bump.”

The Red Sox have had that successful plural mentioned with Price and Sale, but not the Price and Sale of 2019. The key to a return to glory is both get 30+ starts and Eovaldi becomes a very dynamic mid-rotation starter. And then Eduardo Rodriguez who supplanted the $80 Million trios in 2019. An ace? Borderline, but based on his second half I would give the lefty the nod.’

Having a rotation that is reliable day to day for the Red Sox may just be a wishful fantasy for 2020. Too many question marks regarding health which translates too often to extensive injury list time. I do believe we have collectively witnessed enough of Andrew Cashner, Hector Velazquez, and Brian Johnson. They need more than two more reliable arms.

This is essentially preaching to the choir post since even Captain Obvious realizes the Red Sox will continue to place the shift in reverse unless the ills of the rotation are remedied. I am sure the assorted GM’s on social media will have the panacea for getting the train back on the rails.

Since this is my post, I will take ownership privileges and that means trade chips. Those chips consist almost exclusively of the outfield. The fog is starting to meld away on the Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. situation and both are getting to slide into the “See, Ya!” category. If that happens, the Red Sox need pitching but pitching without exorbitant contracts. A delicate balance for the new victim at the general manager.

The value of Betts and Bradley is clouded by the specter of pending free agency, but another possible avenue exists where an extensive group of pitchers that have options. The options may or may not be exercised, but it does open up an avenue for trade. Just who is certainly debatable and what is the return besides just a payroll reduction? I will most certainly avoid a detailed examination of the list and all the speculation that would swirl around it. But with Betts adamant about wandering the free-agent landscape the price of return may diminish.

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Without the acquisition of pitching, moving Betts and/or Bradley is a sideways move. With a management team in transition, flux, or confusion – mistakes can be made. Mistakes are made even with stability, but now just what levels of evaluation and commitment exist? Whoever puts the final stamp of approval must get arms with a reasonable promise of success in exchange or otherwise it will be more of the same.

If Betts goes elsewhere the often mentioned return is a mid-rotation starter and prospects, but just how good the prospects will be is questionable. If the Red Sox look westward to the Dodgers then ship Kenta Maeda and his low-cost contract to the east along with Dustin May. Maybe squeeze the Dodgers for one of their young catchers? Toss in Keibert Ruiz. Just possible the Dodgers could make Betts an offer he could not refuse and Boston may get more than just Maeda and a prospect.

If Atlanta is the drop off point – just think of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Betts in the same outfield – then give Boston local connection Sean Newcomb as just a starting piece. Atlanta has some credible minor league pitching especially Ian Anderson and could Boston pluck one or two? Just stay away from Mike Foltynewicz after that playoff debacle.

The Chicago White Sox have been mentioned and then just for the sake of crazy get Michael Kopech back among others. And getting off the crazy trail and go west again to the Padres. The Padres seem intent on collecting $30 Million+ contracts and have a top prospect in MacKenzie Gore as part of any package.

Next. Three ways to dip under the luxury tax and still contend. dark

The drift is apparent in any move for Betts it should be pitching followed by more pitching. With Betts, you get more than with JBJ but I would apply the same standard to that in getting pitching in return and not necessarily pitchers approaching arbitration. Take a chance of promising hurlers and hope you catch a break.