Five Starting Pitchers the Boston Red Sox Should Target

starting pitchers James ShieldsHaving traded away Jon Lester and John Lackey back on July 31st, the Boston Red Sox now need to rework the starting rotation to include a couple front line starters to work alongside Clay Buchholz and several of the Red Sox prospects next season.

Sure, the Red Sox have  money to spend, but what pitchers can the Red Sox go after via trade or free agency?

1. James Shields: The veteran starter has not fared well at Fenway Park or against the New York Yankees in his career, but he has shown to be a competitor as the Kansas City Royals are back in the World Series for the first time since 1985. If the Red Sox want “Big Game” James on their team, it might take a better AAV with shorter years and they have the money to work with. The 5.19 postseason ERA does not affect this decision.

2. Jon Lester: The Red Sox may have really done themselves a disservice by not signing Lester during spring training, but they still have a chance to sign him for a luxurious contract. Sure, the $24-26 million contract might be too much, but during the postseason Lester has been a rock prior to 2014.

3. Cole Hamels: The Philadelphia Phillies have put Hamels out on the market, but he has not pitched well in his limited starts against AL teams. The 30-year-old already has a contract through 2018 with a team option in 2019. The Red Sox would have to put together a great package, but it could be a nice acquisition for the right price.

4. Ervin Santana: With a respectable 3.24 ERA two seasons ago with the Royals and a 3.94 ERA with the Atlanta Braves in 2014, Santana looks like a steady No. 2 starter who can eat up innings. He has less than 150 innings pitched twice in his 10-year career and could be a viable asset for a Red Sox pitching staff that had some health issues throughout the season.

5. Edinson Volquez: The 31-year-old might not be the most consistent pitcher on the market, but he did show great composure down the stretch for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sure, the San Francisco Giants roughed him up in the Wild Card game, but he could be a quality guy for cheap. His 13-7 record with a 3.04 ERA is impressive and were his best numbers since 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds. Volquez could be the best option if the Red Sox want to go cheap for pitchers with potential.

Giancarlo Stanton’s Nice But…..

Giancarlo StantonIt’s no secret Boston Red Sox fans want Giancarlo Stanton and want him badly. I mean, why wouldn’t you? His raw power is in a class of its own, he’s a decent defender, and he’s only freakin’ 24 years old! Oh, and just imagine his sweet right-handed swing in Fenway Park with the Green Monster only a short distance away from home plate. You’d be crazy to pahk your cah on Lansdowne Street whenever Stanton was penciled into the lineup, because there’s a good chance you’ll leave the game with a shattered car window.

That being said, Boston should not prioritize pursuing Stanton this offseason. Before you hastily, and prematurely, scoff at me, give me a chance to share my rationale.

The Red Sox have a talented crop of outfielders now and looking ahead to next season. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Brock Holt, and the newly-signed Rusney Castillo.

Not only does Boston not have an urgent need for another outfielder, but they have a logjam. What’s bound to happen is they’ll have to deal two or three of those guys before the ’15 season commences.

I like Stanton as much as the next guy, however, Boston should look to improve their inexperienced rotation before upgrading a strong surplus.

If Cherington and Co. decide to sacrifice coveted-prospect(s) for anybody it should be for a pitcher. Whether that be for Cole Hamels or someone else, that needs to be their main focus.

Surely they could acquire pitching on the free agent market, yet Boston’s shown of late they’re weary to pay top-dollar for prized free agents. This puts Boston at a huge disadvantage to acquire a Jon Lester or Max Scherzer on the free-agent market.

Conversely, given their abundance of talented prospects, the Red Sox have a leg up on other teams on the trade market.

So, really, the wise thing to do in this situation would be to offer a package of prospects for a quality starter before draining your farm system on Stanton. If, however, they find a way to acquire say a James Shields on the free agent market then, yes, by all means get the man. They just need to get their priorities straight before attempting to land the biggest fish on the trade market.