Update, 3:50 pm: The Red Sox and Mariners have made a trade that sends Carson Smith and Roenis Elias to Boston for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro.
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The Mariners are trying to remake their roster after finally shedding former general manager Jack Zduriencik, and that task goes to new GM Jerry Dipoto. Part of that reshaping involves filling out the rotation behind ace Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners are apparently talking to the Red Sox about helping with that. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners are "making progress" with the Sox about Wade Miley trade after discussing one of him or Clay Buchholz -- initially, it was unclear which of the arms the M's were chasing.
Dipoto is very familiar with Miley, as he was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2008. Dipoto joined the Arizona organization in 2006 along with another former Red Sox front office employee, Josh Byrnes. Dipoto would take over for Byrnes as the team's GM in 2010 after a run as the D-Backs' Director of Scouting and Player Personnel, and Miley made his major-league debut in 2011 while Dipoto was finishing up his run in Arizona working under Kevin Towers. Dipoto also recently returned to the Red Sox to write up a detailed, outsider look at the entire Boston organization, so he's aware of what Miley is capable of in the present-day, too.
How the Sox rotation can survive a pitching trade
The Red Sox might trade a pitcher, but if the rotation has depth, it needs just about all of it. If the Sox trade one of their top-five starters, another shoe has to drop.
He's the lower upside pick relative to Buchholz, but the Mariners could use the kind of stability Miley would bring, and especially at his low cost, as he's owed just $6 million in 2016, $8.75 million in 2017, and has a $12 million option with a $500,000 buyout for 2018. Plus, Safeco would likely help Miley better than any of his previous parks, as both Chase Field and Fenway Park are hitter-friendly.
Miley's 2015 began horribly, but once he undid the changes to his approach that former pitching coach Juan Nieves had him employ, he returned to form and posted a 4.10 ERA over his final 28 starts and 178 innings, averaging 6-1/3 per start. That 4.10 ERA was exactly league average for a starter before you even account for Miley's home park, and that performance, combined with his low pay, is precisely why the Sox can't just give him away.
As for Buchholz, trading him would mean the Red Sox need to find another, more reliable second starter. At just $13 million in both 2016 and 2017 should his option for next summer be picked up, he's reasonably priced even if he only gives his team 200 innings total in that span. That's the reason why trading him isn't a terrible plan so long as there is a follow-up to it, but it's also why it makes sense to just keep him unless the return and the new number two make a ton of sense for the Sox.
The question that remains unanswered is just what the Mariners have to offer. We could see the possibility of a Dipoto/Dombrowski trade coming a month ago, given his firsthand knowledge of the Red Sox. What we couldn't figure out is just what it is the Sox would be able to get from the M's for even a minor piece, never mind for Miley and his remaining contract.
Charlie Furbush, a former Tigers pitcher under Dave Dombrowski, is a likely target since he's a lefty reliever -- and the Sox don't have a reliable one of those -- but he's just one guy, thrived in limited duty, and is under control for less time than Miley. So he won't be enough on his own.