Once the clock struck 4 Friday afternoon, the Red Sox’ fate was sealed. They will end the season in the same state in which they began it.
Without an ace.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Sox pursued multiple targets — from the Padres’ Tyson Ross to the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco — in an attempt to find a contractually controllable starting pitcher to place atop their league-worst rotation. But the buyers outnumbered the sellers (as usual in the final days of July), and there wasn’t a sensible trade to be made for a team that is bound for its third last-place finish in four years.
And so, the search will spill into another offseason, the Red Sox still stalking that elusive No. 1 starter, the white whale to general manager Ben Cherington’s Captain Ahab.
“We know that having a front-line starter is always a good thing,” Cherington said, although the Sox nevertheless haven’t possessed one since they traded lefty Jon Lester last July 31 after botching negotiations on a contract extension. “We want that type of pitcher. The question is how to get it and how to keep it.”
Here are three potential avenues:
The free agent
The retirement of No. 45 last Tuesday night reminded us of a time when the bleachers at Fenway were decked out in Dominican flags every time Pedro Martinez pitched.
Imagine that happening again.
No, Pedro isn’t making a comeback. But right-hander Johnny Cueto, who regards Martinez as his “inspiration,” is poised to become a free agent.
Cueto turns 30 in February, so the Sox would have to break from their philosophy of avoiding long-term contracts for pitchers in their 30s. But Pedro’s protege might be a worthwhile exception, his 2.73 ERA since the start of 2010 ranking behind only Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey and Sonny Gray among pitchers with at least 50 starts.
Health? Cueto made at least 30 starts in five of his first seven big-league seasons. And despite concerns about his elbow last month, he threw eight shutout innings for the Reds before being traded last weekend to the Royals.
Speaking of which, the fact that Cueto and lefty David Price were dealt in midseason means the team that signs them won’t have to relinquish a draft pick, which makes them more appealing …Read More