Boston is taking a look at two very different starting pitchers
Those wondering when the Red Sox are going to start talking to free agent pitchers can probably stop worrying about that on day two of the winter meetings. In addition to the earlier report that Brandon McCarthy has been contacted by Boston, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is now saying that the Red Sox are also interested in Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
As Heyman also says -- but was already known -- the price on Sanchez is high. To the point of ridiculous, actually, but not quite there. Sanchez is seeking six years and $90 million courtesy of being the second-best option on the market. Paying out for relative greatness is the fastest route to buyer's remorse, though, so if that's the price tag on Sanchez, and the negotiations of other teams allow him to stick to it, then Boston should back down.
Sanchez is pretty good, but $15 million a year for a pitcher who has been pretty good, rather than great -- and for six years -- is asking for trouble. If the market falls around him a bit, and Boston can do something more along the lines of 4/$60 million, or 4/$52M, that's one thing. But given how much teams crave pitching, expect someone to at least bestow a C.J. Wilson-esque deal on Sanchez, making those particular demands unrealistic. Bob Nightengale reports that five teams -- the Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, and Royals -- are looking at Sanchez, as well as the ever-popular mystery team. If the Dodgers miss out on Greinke, they are just crazy enough to spend whatever Sanchez asks for. In fact, maybe he should increase his demands.
This could be one of those situations where two things happen: you're happy it isn't your team footing the bill, and you remember how important developing your own pitching is. While Sanchez could help in 2013 and 2014, the need to pay him big dollars might not exist as much afterward, assuming Boston hits on at least a couple of their starting pitching prospects. With that in mind, though, there's also the alternative scenario, where maybe Boston wishes they had paid for Sanchez once it turns out that three-fourths of their future starters are actually big-league relievers. It probably makes more sense to deal with that issue if it comes up, though, rather than pay out the nose for a Sanchez-shaped insurance policy years in advance.
As for Lohse, he's useful at the right price. The right price is if the years are low and he's paid to be the fourth- or fifth-starter he is, rather than the more top-end deal he has reportedly been seeking after a couple of productive seasons with the Cardinals.
Leaving Busch Stadium, the NL Central, and the NL will all be negatives for Lohse. But, he's utilized a sinker much more in the past couple of seasons, and it's helped him to be convincingly average even without the benefits of his most-recent surroundings. If the cost for average is appropriate, then Boston should be in on Lohse, especially if they have missed out on other targets. There's no rush to lock him down, though, not unless there are further plans to revamp the rotation and improve further.
For more on Kyle Lohse, check out his entry in our Off-Season Target series.