The Red Sox have made an offer to free agent Justin Masterson according to Jon Heyman. They are not alone, however, with Heyman saying that the Rangers have also made an offer, with plenty of other teams following close behind:
rangers and red sox have made offers on justin masterson. also talking to marlins, white sox, kc, sf, minn, etc.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2014
This is not the first time this offseason that the Red Sox have been linked to Masterson, but it is the first time we've heard of anything so concrete as an offer. What Heyman doesn't have, unfortunately, is any details as to what that offer entails in terms of dollars and years.
Without that information, it's also hard to say what an offer to Masterson means for Boston's greater pitching plans. Coming off a terrible 2014 that saw him pitch to a 5.88 ERA with Cleveland and St. Louis, Masterson is likely only looking for a chance to prove himself. It's hard to imagine any team investing in him long-term at the moment, much less at the price Masterson may have envisioned after his successful 2013 season, meaning that we're likely looking at a one-year deal here no matter where he might end up.
UPDATE: Nick Cafardo, after initially claiming it was for two years, has now confirmed that the Red Sox have offered Lester just the one:
Just had Red Sox offer to Justin Masterson clarified to me by a major league source. It's a one year offer.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 9, 2014
For Boston, there's a lot to like when it comes to one-year deals. They seem to have earmarked 2015 as their one year to blow past the $189 million tax threshold, leaving Masterson an ideal pick-up, at least when it comes to the dollars and cents aspect. He'll cost them money in the year where they're willing to spend, and then nothing afterward.
That also might mean that Masterson isn't intended to be one of the two pitchers the Red Sox seem to need headed into the season. And, really, that's the way the Red Sox should probably view him. Masterson is as far from a sure thing as possible when the Red Sox really need sure things. Pitchers who can guarantee them better than the likes of Allen Webster or Anthony Ranaudo. Justin Masterson has upside, but there's clearly risk there given his inconsistency and injury issues.
Does that mean Masterson isn't intended to be a second pitcher, but a third? It's a possibility, albeit one that's hard to really do anything more than guess at without knowing first the terms of the offer, and second just how far they're willing to go in terms of payroll for the season. We can, however, say that the rotation can fit three new arms. So far even in the scenarios with two new faces, the Red Sox are relying on Rubby De La Rosa as their fifth starter. And while he was the best of the young arms the Sox tried in 2014, he certainly wasn't too good to be replaced.
For now, we can only wait and see. But as the first night of the Winter Meetings comes to a close, it seems like the pitching market is finally starting to move.