Lucas Giolito injury should teach Red Sox lesson about cutting corners in free agency

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox made one big-ticket signing this offseason. They brought in Lucas Giolito to stabilize the starting rotation and to give the pitcher a chance to rehab his career after two straight poor campaigns.

But Giolito's season might be lost before he ever saw a regular season game in a Red Sox uniform.

Right elbow soreness prompted Boston's training staff to have a look at Giolito's throwing arm. Early imaging shows a partial UCL tear, and season-ending surgery may be necessary to repair it.

In December, the Red Sox signed Giolito to a two-year, $38.5 million deal. Boston will be lucky to get three months of action out of him next season. His deal also contains an opt-out after this year, which means he may never pitch in a Red Sox uniform if he chooses to play elsewhere. It wouldn't be in his best interest to pitch anywhere else, as he had two down seasons in a row and now a likely complete lost campaign to follow them up — he'd be hard-pressed to find another team interested in his services.

So, the Red Sox could end up paying $38.5 million for a pitcher to maybe give them 20 starts.

The Red Sox are in a bad spot after concerning Lucas Giolito injury news. But it didn't need to be this way.

Boston chose the best inexpensive starting pitcher option this winter, and this is what the organization gets. Giolito hasn't been known for much good in recent years besides his durability.

Based on Giolito's last two seasons, he brought next to nothing except the ability to eat innings. If this was the front office's commitment to fielding a competitive team, it was shallow and it's already backfiring. Now, Boston's rotation is in the worst shape it's been in years with just one true starter in 24-year-old Brayan Bello. And he's hardly a leader.

An injury like this could happen to any pitcher, but Red Sox Nation can't help but think of how differently the offseason would be going if Boston signed Jordan Montgomery instead, as fans have begged the front office to do. He's already had Tommy John surgery once, which comes with no guarantees, but he's gone through the pitcher's worst nightmare that Giolito is just beginning. It's rare for a pitcher to need a second surgery, though, and Montgomery has been just as durable as Giolito throughout his career. The benefit of investing in proven pitchers on longer-term deals is that teams can weather potential injury storms. Had this been somebody under contract longer than a year or two, Boston might've been able to see any sort of value at the end of the tunnel. And they have the spending power that can fulfill such a luxury.

But since the Red Sox went with the least expensive option to bolster their rotation instead of doing what was best for the team, they now have to eat Giolito's contract money and scramble to find a plan B. And at this rate, because they're essentially on track to eat Giolito's money heading into a lost season, there's little reason to spend more to fix what was hardly a solution to the larger problem.

There would be no need for a plan B if the front office kept its offseason promises and spent a fraction of its copious amount of money to make this basement-dwelling team better. But for now, the Red Sox are victim to yet another tough break. Such is life in MLB, especially when you don't operate like you're supposed to.

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