With Chris Sale heading to the 15-day injured list, a Red Sox rotation that was already lacking in depth got a little bit thinner to begin the season. To this end, Sale’s situation doesn’t really alter the team’s interest in potentially adding a new arm from outside the organization, as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that the Sox were exploring such an acquisition even before Sale’s recovery from pneumonia delayed his preseason preparations. “We would always want to accumulate as much depth as we can. So I don’t think that changes,” Bloom said.
The Red Sox could look into trade possibilities, perhaps picking up a starter who has become a spare part on another team that already has an excess of pitching candidates. Such surplus arms could also become available closer to the end of Spring Training as teams start to finalize their rosters, not to mention the free agent hurlers who are currently on the market. While these pitchers might not necessarily be picky in choosing a new team this deep in the offseason, the Sox can offer extra opportunity to available starters, since a solid short-term performance could lead to a proper rotation spot even after Sale returns.
Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Martin Perez were Boston’s top four projected starters, and with Sale now out for at least the first couple of weeks of the regular season, the battle for the fifth starter’s job now expands to a battle for two spots. (Assuming a “starter” is required at all, since interim manager Ron Roenicke raised the possibility that the Red Sox could use an opener for one or both of the rotation spots.) Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, Phillips Valdez, and Brian Johnson are among the names under consideration, and it’s possible that the Red Sox could stick with one or more of these options rather than an outside acquisition.
“We have a lot of guys here we’re interested in learning more about, that we’re excited about, and we brought them all in for a reason,” Bloom said. “We have some guys within the organization to help them get better. This is good to see them put those adjustments into play and learn more about them.”