As the ink dries on Max Scherzer’s new seven-year, $210 million dollar deal, the Washington Nationals now hold a surplus of starting pitchers. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has publicly stated that if the right deal comes along, one of those starting pitchers could be available.
Enter the Boston Red Sox. After a title run in 2013, Beantown took a colossal step backwards in 2014, ending in a fire sale and a retooling effort that included the signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval plus a trade for Rick Porcello. Although Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has made it known that he is confident in his starting rotation as is, speculation has it that the Sox would deal for an ace if the price is right.
The Red Sox possess a wealth of top-tier prospects, and are in an intriguing situation with a surplus of major-league caliber outfielders. Washington is sure to demand a king’s ransom for one of their elite starters, but the Red Sox have enough assets to get a deal done.
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Jordan Zimmermann has been the subject of trade rumors all Hot Stove season, but Stephen Strasburg’s name has entered the fold following the Scherzer signing. These two would likely command the biggest return, but Boston may have interest in Gio Gonzalez or Doug Fister, both consistently above-average starters with top-of-the-rotation potential. For our sake let’s classify Zimmermann and Strasburg as “A” list targets, with Fister and Gonzalez as “B” list options.
A reasonable offer for an “A” list pitcher could be a top pitching prospect, a top positional prospect, one or two mid-level prospects, and a major league-caliber player. Two of Boston’s top pitching prospects, Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, are left-handed and could be hot commodities on the trade market.
On the positional side, Deven Marrero and Mookie Betts have shown the most upside, and the Red Sox would likely have to part with one of the two to get a deal done. Also, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Boston would entertain parting with shortstop Xander Bogaerts to acquire a premium pitching talent.
As for the mid-level prospects, infielder Garin Cecchini’s name comes to mind. Hurler Matt Barnes could be grouped in there as well as young major league-ready righty Brandon Workman, who was a solid option for Boston out of the bullpen late in 2013 but struggled mightily in 2014. So out of that smorgasbord of players, let’s attempt to craft a deal.
Strasburg is under contract through 2016, but as a Scott Boras client, while Zimmermann will hit the open market following 2015. For speculation’s sake, let’s take one prospect out of the deal for Zimmermann. A potential package for Zimmermann may be Rodriguez, Marrero, Cecchini and Barnes. For Strasburg, the Red Sox would probably have to cough up another young gun.
Although Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister may not be surrounded by as much fanfare, the asking price for one of these pitchers may be a tad lower. A reasonable offer for one of these players may include a top prospect, a mid-level prospect, a major league caliber pitcher such as Workman or righty Joe Kelly and possibly a low-level minor leaguer.
A deal between Boston and Washington is not currently in the works, but interesting trade possibilities involving the two teams remain. Although Rizzo and Cherington have said they are comfortable heading to Opening Day with their current rotations, the financial commitment to Max Scherzer may lead to a deal and the Boston Red Sox are a more-than-capable trade partner.