That the Boston Red Sox must improve their pitching is not in question.

It’s how.

Throughout New England, fans are playing their own version of “Let’s Make a Deal,” inventing scenarios where Boston unloads a boatload of prospects and young players to a team willing to trade a worthy pitcher.

But is there one worthy enough?

The Chicago White Sox just gave up a couple of decent prospects to San Diego for veteran right-hander James Shields, who is 2-8 this year with a 5.06 ERA. In his first start for Chicago, he lasted two innings, giving up seven earned runs.

There are no big names on the market like last winter, when free agents Johnny Cueto and David Price went to the highest bidders.


The struggling Oakland Athletics have a couple of good starters, but Rich Hill is on the disabled list (groin injury) and Sonny Gray just came off the DL. Gray is scuffling (3-6, 5.34), although his last start was encouraging (72/3 innings, two earned runs).

Gray, only 26 and under team control through 2019, would require a lot in return, if Oakland even considered a trade.

Likewise, the struggling Braves have a potential ace in right-hander Julio Teheran, 25 and under team control through 2020. He has a 2.85 ERA and averages 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. A trade for Teheran would make sense, which makes you wonder why Atlanta would consider it.

Here’s another option for Boston: A veteran pitcher who was 68-47 with a 3.67 ERA the past eight seasons, and a two-time All-Star. He’s misfiring this year, at 3-6 and a 6.24 ERA, but has shown signs of his old self.

Clay Buchholz.

Think about it. If Buchholz were on another team, some Boston fans would want to trade for him, knowing he wouldn’t cost much and could regain his form.


The grass is always greener – and the pitcher is always better – when he’s on another team.

Here are some previous trades the Red Sox made for pitching to make a playoff run.

In 2003, Boston made two deals with different outcomes. It obtained starter Jeff Suppan from Pittsburgh for infielder Freddy Sanchez. Suppan went 3-4 for Boston with a 5.57 ERA and was left off the postseason roster. Sanchez went on to become a three-time National League All-Star, winning the batting title in 2006.

The Red Sox also got closer Scott Williamson from Cincinnati for pitching prospect Phil Dumatrait. Williamson wasn’t spectacular but had a 1.13 ERA in the playoffs, including three saves in the American League Championship Series (he might have had a fourth but that’s a story for another day). Dumatrait had one decent year in three-plus major league seasons.

In 2007, Boston obtained Rangers closer Eric Gagne for two young major leaguers (outfielder David Murphy and pitcher Kason Gabbard), and outfield prospect Engel Beltre. Gagne was a disaster (6.75 ERA). Murphy had a solid but unremarkable career (but there was no room for him in Boston). Gabbard was done by 2008 and Beltre played only 22 games in the majors.

In 2013, Boston sent elite-fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit and obtained pitcher Jake Peavy in a three-team deal. While Peavy was well-known for his bulldog presence, his results are up for debate. He went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA for Boston but the Red Sox were 5-5 in his starts. In the postseason he was 0-1. He lasted three innings in an ALCS start, a loss to Detroit. He lasted four innings in his one World Series start, a non-decision in a loss to St. Louis. Iglesias is still a superb fielder, although he is up and down with the bat (.238 average this year).


Conversely, Boston has taken advantage of contending teams looking for a pitcher.

The best example came in 1997 when the desperate Seattle Mariners obtained Boston closer Heathcliff Slocumb, a one-time All-Star who had a 5.79 ERA (and 1.97 WHIP) with the Red Sox. Slocumb was not much better for Seattle (4.13/1.45) and the Mariners gave up two prospects, pitcher Derek Lowe and catcher Jason Varitek, who seemed to work out well in Boston.

In 2014, when the Red Sox were out of the playoffs, they had a prime trading chip in left-hander Andrew Miller. They sent him to Baltimore for left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, a prospect who was struggling in Double-A. Miller did well (1.35 ERA), although the Orioles were swept by Kansas City in the ALCS. Rodriguez is now in Boston’s rotation.

Interestingly, Rodriguez may be one the answers to Boston’s current troubles. He has been so-so since coming off the disabled list.

Or an answer could be Buchholz, believe it or not.

There is still the possibility of a trade but – as we have documented – that is rarely the perfect solution.


Trading for a declining arm (Shields) makes little sense when Boston may have better answers internally.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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