The Red Sox’s rotation just got really, really good.
Boston acquired ace Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday in exchange for prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz, giving the club a fearsome Big Three on the mound at Fenway Park. Sale joins a starting five that includes reigning American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price.
But where does that leave the rest of the Red Sox’s starting arms?
The Nos. 1 through 3 spots clearly are taken, so that leaves Boston with Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright, Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez to fill two spots. There’s a possibility the Red Sox could use a six-man rotation — the topic hasn’t come up yet, but it’s not unheard of — but that still makes for an odd man out. And like most things in baseball, it could be pretty complicated to figure out who that man is.
The biggest issue the Red Sox have when it comes to filling out the Nos. 4 and 5 spots is that Sale and Price both are lefties. That means Boston could be reluctant to use both Pomeranz and Rodriguez, who also are southpaws, in a five-man rotation. Pomeranz seems to have a pretty strong hold on a spot, too, as the Red Sox did send top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the San Diego Padres for him at this season’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Still, if the Red Sox are going to relegate two pitchers to the bullpen, then right-handers Wright and Buchholz have the most experience there. Wright was an All-Star in 2016 and was one of Boston’s most consistent starters before he ended the season on the disabled list, but the knuckleballer has excelled in long relief in the past. Buchholz wasn’t too shabby out of the ‘pen last season, either, holding opponents to a .198 batting average in 22 relief appearances.
In all honesty, the Red Sox likely will save the competition for spring training. The four guys on the bubble all had issues either with injuries or inconsistency in 2016, so it’s safest to see what they’re working with come February.
Then again, after a day in which president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made moves left and right, the Red Sox might not go into spring training with seven starters anyway.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images