BOSTON — It’s no secret the Red Sox need starting pitching help ahead of Major League Baseball’s Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
But whether the supply matches Boston’s demand is a different story.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski spoke Saturday ahead of the team’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and admitted there aren’t too many quality arms on the trading block.
“It’s not an easy starting pitching market out there,” Dombrowski said. “There’s a lot of clubs looking for starting pitching, and there’s not a lot of starting pitchers out there. You can get starting pitching. I assure you, I can pick up the phone and get a starting pitcher. But is it a starting pitcher that helps you? So, that’s sort of the key there.”
The Red Sox reportedly have had their eye on a few starters — the Oakland Athletics’ Rich Hill and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jeremy Hellickson, to name a few.
But those expecting a blockbuster for a top arm like Chris Sale or Jose Fernandez might be left disappointed, as Dombrowski hinted the team will target a back-end starter to augment David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello at the top of the rotation.
“We don’t really need a No. 1 starter,” Dombrowski said. “You’d love to have a No. 1 starter, but I think we’ve got three guys that have been pitching very consistently. I’m hopeful that somebody that we still have will take a step up and do well. They have the ability to do so.”
The league’s shallow pitching market also means an arm will come with a higher price tag, and Dombrowski admitted several teams are interested in Boston’s deep crop of prospects, which is headed by Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi.
“We’ve got some guys who we don’t want to trade, some guys who are really good players,” Dombrowski said. “… It’s apparent when you talk to other organizations how highly they regard your players.
“The names that we don’t want to trade always start the conversation. People know there’s a limited starting pitching market. And that could change, because clubs could fall out of it, or somebody could get back in, and that changes (things). That’s what makes this time of year so interesting.”
Dombrowski already has addressed the Red Sox’s needs in the bullpen and the infield by acquiring closer Brad Ziegler and utility men Aaron Hill and Michael Martinez. But acquiring at least one quality starting pitcher before Aug. 1 is the team’s primary goal, and as things stand right now, it appears Dombrowski has his work cut out for him.
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