Yesterday, right-handed pitcher Chris Young exercised the opt-out clause in his contract, departing a Nationals team where he did not feel he had a chance to make the rotation and hitting the open market. In his last start, Young went four innings, allowing just one unearned run as scouts from many teams, the Red Sox included, looked on.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have something of a starting depth problem. After Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey, the Sox don't really have options just yet. Allen Webster has turned heads this spring, but neither he nor Rubby De La Rosa are ready just yet. Franklin Morales is a good option, but he's been shut down with a bulging disc in his back. That leaves Alfredo Aceves, who has a tendency to hit batters and give up runs when he starts, and Steven Wright, who hasn't given the Red Sox any reason to think his knuckleball plays better than Charlie Zink's.
The Sox could certainly do worse than Chris Young. It's been a long time since 2007, when he put up 173 innings of 3.12 ERA ball. Since then, Young has spent as much if not more time on the disabled list than off it. And, when he has made his way to the mound, he's not been quite the same pitcher he was back in the days, lacking the ability to punch hitters out at the rate he used to.
How much of that can be contributed to rust and how much to permanent deterioration after so many injuries is anyone's guess. But unlike with most pitchers available around this time of the year, there's a non-zero possibility that Chris Young is actually good.
The problem is that Young wants a major league deal, and the Red Sox don't really have the roster space to give it to him. And even if they did, there's no rotation spot available. Toss in the fact that Young, even at his best, still allowed a ton of fly balls, and it seems unlikely there's a match to be made here. If the Sox are one of the teams where Young would be most likely to work his way into the rotation (Doubront is a question mark, Buchholz has had some injury issues, Dempster is no spring chicken, and John Lackey is John Lackey), they're also one of the places he'd be least likely to succeed.
Still, if his market ends up dry, the Sox could do so much worse.
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