The Red Sox have reached out to the Braves to inquire about ace Julio Teheran and closer Arodys Vizcaino, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). However, it would appear that the talks are somewhat preliminary in nature, as he adds that there’s no traction between the two sides at this time. In an audio clip from MLB Network Radio, Bowden adds that the problem for the Sox is that Atlanta is interested in the likes of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi (understandably so — most clubs would ask for those names when potentially dealing their top players), and the Sox are loath to surrender either.
The two sides do, as Bowden points out, make a fairly logical match in terms of a trade. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne noted as much several weeks ago when examining Teheran’s market and trying to find the most reasonable trade partners. Boston has a high volume of top-tier prospects, many of whom are effectively blocked at the Major League level. That’s not the case for Benintendi (left field for the Sox has been a season-long problem), which one would imagine makes it even more difficult for the Red Sox to part with him. But, the Braves are said to want MLB-ready talent in any trade that would send Teheran away, and that’s presumably an even greater point of emphasis in a package that would see Atlanta part with both Teheran and Vizcaino. Benitendi has already spent five weeks at the Double-A level and has recently begun hitting quite well there after some early struggles. It’s not inconceivable that he could be ready to contribute in 2016, and 2017 certainly seems like a realistic expectation.
Both Teheran and Vizcaino make sense as long-term options for the Sox. Teheran is guaranteed about $28MM through the 2019 season, and his contract contains a $12MM club option for the 2020 campaign, at which point he’ll still be just 29 years of age. Vizcaino, meanwhile, is controllable through 2019 by way of arbitration. Both players solve not only 2016 needs for the Sox but represent long-term upgrades. With Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa both slated to depart after 2016, the long-term appeal of Vizcaino, in particular, is easy to see.
From a bigger-picture perspective, the Red Sox’ search for pitching likely won’t be limited to just Atlanta. Boston has received stunningly excellent results from knuckleballer Steven Wright this season, and David Price has improved after a slow start while Rick Porcello has been a solid mid-rotation piece. Beyond that trio, however, the likes of Eduardo Rodriguez, Joe Kelly, Clay Buchholz and Henry Owens have been decidedly ineffective, resulting in a team that ranks 18th in the Majors with a collective 4.53 ERA from its starting pitchers. The bullpen has been better, pitching to a combined 3.56 ERA, but Uehara has struggled this season and Matt Barnes is averaging nearly five walks per nine innings despite a solid 3.21 ERA. Additionally, the team lost one of its top projected bullpen arms when offseason acquisition Carson Smith underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. Given the lack of traction in talks referenced by the initial report, the Sox may ultimately deem Atlanta’s asking price too steep and venture elsewhere to address their pitching needs, but this figures to be the first of many times that the Sox are connected to this pair of arms as the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline approaches.
Regarding the Braves, there’s a fairly split camp on whether Teheran should be shopped at all. The entire MLBTR staff recently weighed in on the matter, and no consensus was reached. Similarly, a poll of MLBTR readers within that same roundtable showed that about two thirds of our reader base felt it worthwhile to shop Teheran, whereas the other third felt him valuable of a building block to surrender.