I can’t deny: the Red Sox are in an exceptionally good place right now. It looks like, with all odds in play, that we’ll run away with the AL East, and maybe even the pennant, provided the Tigers and Blue Jays don’t raise a significant challenge.
But, looking at the pitching situation, things could be so much better! Imagine this Red Sox team with an ace. Got it? Now imagine this Red Sox team with a PAIR of aces. Quaking uncontrollably from the potential of that team? Now imagine that getting those two aces WON’T involve dealing with Ruben Amaro Jackass, AND we won’t have to inherit a costly long-term contract.
Sorry. Quick!- before you black out from the shock: some Failed Prospect Resuscitation (FPR)! Anderson, Lavarnway, Middlebrooks, Bard! Not working? FELIX DOUBRONT! Phew.
Anyway, I digress. I’d like to present a plan for the rest of the offseason, complete with reasoning to prove I’m only half lunatic.
All indications out of LA seem to say that the Dodgers are running up against their spending limits, sky-high as they may be. One would think new president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman is looking for breathing room to work with in the same manner as Ben Cherington was when he inherited the Sox in the winter of 2011-12. The Dodgers, in addition to making more room under the cap, get a solid, controllable young pitcher in Miley who comes much cheaper than Greinke, two blue chip prospects with all-star potential at future positions of need, and a first baseman with solid on-base skills to anchor the position for a year while the Dodgers transition to a newer, younger core. And Quintin Berry too because what the hell.
On the Red Sox side, there is certain to be reservation at taking on two large contracts after the events of 2011, but the upside is extremely obvious. Greinke, by virtue of being traded, obtains an opt-out in his contract after the 2015 season. It seems probable, even likely, that Greinke exercises the opt-out should he pitch as well as his previous seasons. Thus, the Red Sox have an ace they aren’t tied to for 5+ seasons for the year where weak competition seems to encourage a run at the World Series.
As for Gonzalez, there will be many who will hesitate at bringing back the man sometimes held responsible for the ’11 fiasco, and perhaps they are correct in saying Gonzalez back to Boston is a PR fiasco waiting to happen. But many forget how effective Gonzalez actually was in his time in Boston, slashing .321/.382/.513 in 282 games while batting in 203 runs in the heart of the Red Sox order. He’ll add more balance as a lefty to what’s still a righty-dominated lineup, and stabilize a first base position that would have been the weak point in the Red Sox order in a post- Napoli era. While he’s undoubtedly overpaid, it’s his inclusion that enables us to complete a deal to net us one of our two aces and secure first base long-term.
The Nationals are a team in danger of losing their entire core to free agency after the 2015 and 2016 seasons, a fact that’s been well-documented. It makes sense that, even as they try to compete in 2015, they should keep an eye to the future and players that they can control beyond the next two seasons. Swihart, Nava, and Owens have a combined 14 years of control between them, and give the Nats a core to build around that can come up and be productive as early as this year.
On the Red Sox side, hate to lose Owens, but we’ve still got Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson for elite young pitching prospects, so we’re dealing from a strength. As for Swihart, much as it kills, his value will never be any higher as a two way catcher. Even if he were to live up to his potential, he’d be displacing an established major league player in Vazuqez who has shown extraordinary defensive ability and enough of a bat to justify staying in the lineup.
And of course, Strasburg. We’d be receiving an elite young pitcher we’d have a shot at extending with some postseason experience. Seems like a win, no need to elaborate. Skole is in there as first base depth for Gonzo.
2.3 Allen Craig policy
Allen Craig is to be treated like an ill-conceived stock purchase: sell him if his batting average (value) ever gets to a buck. Same concept with Buchholz. Whatever we can get.
2.4 Trade Shane Victorino to the Rangers for 2B prospect Travis Demeritte
This past season demonstrated for the Rangers their most lacking attribute: depth. Injuries, and specifically being unable to respond to injuries sunk the 2014 Texas Rangers, and one place in which depth seemed to be lacking was the outfield. It may seem ironic to send the oft-injured Victorino to a team in search of stability, but for the purpose of being an "extra line of defense," he should do just fine if things start to crumble. Meanwhile the Sox get a interesting infield prospect with a very punny last name, plus $13MM of salary relief to put towards the new acquisitions.
End Result rotation;
(1. Strasburg, 2. Greinke, 3. Porcello, 4. Masterson, 5. Buchholz)
(1. Betts, 2. Pedroia, 3. Ortiz, 4. HanRam, 5. Bogaerts, 6. Sandoval, 7. Gonzo, 8. Rusney, 9. Vazquez)
The concern then is that the rotation lacks lefties, but with Eduardo and Johnson on the farm it won't be a concern for long.