The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s where we currently stand with the Boston Red Sox, who are still in need of some pitching.
And let me be a little bit more specific here. Not just any type of arm. They need a dominant arm.
As of the second week of June, the Red Sox find themselves in a battle for first place in the AL East. They’re contending. And they’re doing it with a relentless offensive attack and some pitching that’s been just good enough to get by.
Pitching that’s “good enough” can only get you so far. Questions remain in both the starting rotation and the bullpen. David Price has begun to put it all together as the team’s ace. Rick Porcello has been reliable enough. Steven Wright, believe it or not, has been the Sox’ most consistent pitcher since Opening Day. And while we wait and see if Eduardo Rodriguez can bounce back from this knee injury to be the power-pitching stud we know he can be, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Mike Hazen would be foolish not to kick the tires on a potential deal for another starter.
As I mentioned, the bullpen needs an addition too, but the rotation should be the team’s priority. So, where does one go to look for another dominant starter?
It’s a somewhat complicated conversation at the moment, given that the non-waiver trade deadline is well over a month away. But there is a dance partner out there. And you don’t have to look any further than New York.
The Mets have more pitching than they know what to do with, and their rotation is only going to get more crowded with the return of 26-year-old power-righty Zack Wheeler after he All-Star break.
Wheeler is returning from Tommy John surgery, and should be a fine addition to the bottom of an already-dominant rotation. So again, pitching isn’t New York’s problem. But they do need some offensive help. The Mets rank 28th in the majors in runs scored and batting average, and 23rd in the league in on-base percentage.
Even if the Red Sox didn’t want to part ways with some of their established young bats — which they shouldn’t — they have the prospects to send to a third team, who can then flip a bat to the Mets, landing the Sox their new pitcher.
It’s the type of deal I had come up with last year around this time, as the Detroit Tigers were shopping Yoenis Cespedes. I wanted the Red Sox to get involved, send prospects to Detroit, get Cespedes to New York, and bring a recovering Wheeler to Boston.
Well, that exact deal never happened. But Cespedes did end up getting traded to the Mets for a pair of minor leaguers. And what’s funny about it is, Dombrowski was the one who made the trade for the Tigers. What’s also funny about it is, he didn’t get Wheeler in return. And it wasn’t like Wheeler wasn’t available. Before the Cespedes deal went down, the Mets had agreed to a trade that would have sent Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez. New York pulled out of the deal at the last minute when it discovered an issue with Gomez’ hip.
Now, Dombrowski finds himself trying to make a deal for the Red Sox. And the Mets still have plenty of pitching. In a perfect world, he’d be able to convince the Mets that Matt Harvey needs a change of scenery, given his terrible numbers in 2016. But if he wanted to take a chance on Wheeler right now, there’s definitely still a deal out there that works for both Boston and New York, even if it means adding a third team to the trade in order to get the Mets the offensive player they’re looking for.
Either way, the Red Sox know what they need. And if it’s not the Mets, they’ll find someone to make a trade with, come Aug. 1.