With only five days to go until the MLB Trade Deadline, the Red Sox will be looking to acquire new talent to address areas of concern
After watching Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller's last starts, I'm beginning to believe that the main area of need for the Red Sox is starting pitching. Even though the Red Sox got Jon Lester's services back this week, they will be forced to use both Miller and Wakefield in the starting rotation until Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list. It is unclear as to when he will do so.
Last week, I tackled the idea of the Red Sox acquiring Edwin Jackson from the White Sox; but Jackson appears to be on his way to St. Louis as a part of a three-team trade. It also appears that the Red Sox are out of the market for both Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza.
With the Red Sox watching Erik Bedard's Friday start with the Mariners, there seems to be only one other pitcher they could acquire. Even though he's 6-12 this season, Hiroki Kuroda has put up fantastic numbers this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have expressed some interest in the Japanese pitcher, and he would be a great fit in the Red Sox pitching rotation. Here's why:
Since entering the league in 2008, Kuroda has been one of the most consistent pitchers year in and year out. This season, Kuroda is 6-12 with a 3.19 ERA in 127 innings of work this season. While the record may tell a different story, Kuroda has had a very strong 2011 campaign. This season, Kuroda has a very solid 6.9 strike out per nine rating and a relativity low 2.3 walks per nine. His 1.220 WHIP is also a valuable commodity.
There are some concerns as to whether or not Kuroda would waive his no-trade clause to join a contending team, especially if they play on the east coast. He has insisted that he is comfortable in Los Angeles, but could be enticed to waive his no-trade rights if either the Yankees or Red Sox come calling. Kuroda would only be owed about $3 million dollars in the second half of the season, and could be had without giving up to many prospects.
Assuming he'd approve a trade to the Red Sox, Kuroda would certainly give the Red Sox pitching staff a lift as he'd likely be the team's fourth or fifth starter when everyone is healthy. Until Buchholz returns, Kuroda could take the place of the shaky Andrew Miller, who allowed seven runs last night against the Royals. This obviously buys Tim Wakefield some time to reach 200 career wins with Buchholz expected back in mid-August.
Some may look at Kuroda's loss totals and cringe, but he doesn't receive a lot of run support from the Dodger offense. In 20 starts this season, Kuroda hasn't given up more than five earned runs in a game and has never been pulled before the fifth inning. In those 20 starts, Kuroda has 15 quality starts to his name. With the high powered Red Sox offense backing him, many of Kuroda's losses would be sure wins. Had he pitched for the Red Sox.
Kuroda also poses value to the Red Sox, as he is a free agent at year's end. Kuroda will likely achieve Type-B status this season, so the Red Sox could let him walk in the offseason and collect draft picks.
While I still don't rule out guys like Reed Johnson or Jeff Francoeur joining Josh Reddick in the outfield, starting pitching is the real concern here. With the shaky Andrew Miller, Tim Wakefield and the always unpredictable John Lackey locked in the rotation, I believe an upgrade is in order.
The Red Sox are a good enough team to stand pat at the deadline, but acquiring a guy like Hiroki Kuroda would sure up one of the only loose ends on this team. If he feels the fit is right, the Red Sox should pull the trigger on this guy.