We're just over 24 hours away from the trade deadline, and it's looking more and more likely that the Red Sox won't be making much in the way of moves. The most recent anti-news comes from Ken Rosenthal, who says that while the front office has spoken to multiple teams about the possibility of moving starting pitchers, it's "unlikely" that anything will happen.
As far as teams approaching the Red Sox are concerned, it seems like Lester is the primary target. According to Buster Olney, it also seems as though the Sox are simply not interested. Olney's report corroborates what Gordon Edes was hearing last week, and the fact that the Sox haven't budged in their stance just a day before the deadline suggests that they're really not interested in dealing the southpaw, and not simply negotiating.
While Jon Lester has been "part of the problem" this year--his season has been so bad that six innings and four runs against the Yankees inspired cheer in the dugout--he's very likely part of the solution as well. We've been over the reasons a few times before, but suffice to say that the Sox can't really afford to be giving away young starting pitchers with track records of success and solid peripherals for likely diminished returns.
The other major player is, of course, Josh Beckett, who the Red Sox seem very interested in moving. Indeed, the Sox appear to have actively been shopping their one-time ace, but so far interest has been muted, with the Braves now seemingly out of the picture. That teams are not terribly interested in spending big on a guy having the sort of year Beckett is, especially given his mixed reputation.
Aside from the Braves, the only name really being bandied about so far is Texas. While Steve Berthiaume of ESPN speculates that Beckett could make sense for Texas as a money-heavy, prospect-light option now that Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke are gone, Nick Cafardo has heard that there's not much enthusiasm in Arlington for any such move.
While there are calls to sell from many corners of the Red Sox fanbase, personally I don't think the need is urgent to unload starting pitchers. Sure, it would've been nice if Aaron Cook had shut down the Yankees and brought something small back, and the starting rotation hasn't worked this year, but I'm not convinced the pieces aren't largely there.
Consider a 2013 rotation of Jon Lester - Josh Beckett - Clay Buchholz - Felix Doubront - Franklin Morales. It's not a guaranteed success, but there is potential there. I don't expect Jon Lester to stay down for 2013, even if he doesn't reach his old heights. Clay Buchholz has been good ever since he found his post-injury rhythm again. Felix Doubront will be one year more experienced, with the innings load not quite so unusual to him. And while Franklin Morales is risky, the upside is certainly there.
The biggest question is Josh Beckett, and there I admit to a certain appeal to superstition in odd-year Beckett.
The Sox could also have some decent starting depth in the minor leagues in the form of Chris Hernandez, who could try and fill the Aaron Cook role, and hopefully Zach Stewart, if he continues to develop.
There are tons of things that could go wrong with that bunch, but that's kind of what happened this year. The team is certainly in need of adjustments, but perhaps more than anything they need a reset button. With few options in free agency and an uncertain trade market in the offseason, perhaps standing pat now won't turn out to be so bad in the end.
Unless John Lackey ruins it. And he ruins everything.