As we've already discussed earlier today, things aren't going terribly well for Clay Buchholz in Boston. He's basically hanging around waiting for either someone in the rotation to get hurt, the Sox to need four garbage-time innings, or someone to tell him he's no longer needed in Fenway Park. He doesn't have to ride the Pawtucket bus like Joe Kelly, but he also doesn't get the feeling of progress--a goal that he's realistically working towards that provides a light at the end of the tunnel. John Farrell tried to say it wasn't purgatory, but if it's not that, then it's on the wrong side of that dividing line, and we all know what that side is called.
Given the situation at hand, it would be no surprise if Buchholz wanted to be traded. And going by our comments section, my Twitter mentions, radio callers to WEEI, and the occasional banner flown over Fenway Park by those with too much money on their hands, that sentiment is...pervasive in Red Sox Nation. The problem being, who wants him?
The answer might surprise you: just about every bad team in the game.
No, I'm not saying they're looking to take Buchholz with an eye to tank the rest of the way and up their draft stock. Though, hey...if that's the downside of such a move, then all the better. Instead, it's what Buchholz might represent to one of these teams that would make him a worthwhile gamble.
Consider the Diamondbacks, for instance. They're an absolute mess! Greinke has only just gotten back to throwing on flat ground, they're trying to forget Shelby Miller exists, and they're currently four men deep. The point is, they can give Buchholz one start every time through the rotation and not sweat the opportunity cost.
The Red Sox’ plethora of multi-inning relievers
The Red Sox are going to have to work to get through this rough stretch of bullpen injuries, but their group of multi-inning arms can help with that.
So what do they get out of it? A chance to see if Buchholz can get right in the second half of the season pitching in a National League park. If he's terrible--and this distinct possibility is why the Red Sox will do what they can to avoid taking this chance themselves--then it's no big deal. They cut him loose after September and let some other team take the 2017 gamble (which some team will given the weak free agent market). If he's good, though, they pick up his option, and have themselves odd-year Buchholz pitching in a National League park on a relatively cheap one-year deal. Even if they're not contending in 2017, so long as he can stay healthy at least until some point near enough to the trade deadline, they can probably get their money's worth in a trade.
Interestingly, the greater question might actually be if the Red Sox would agree to any such trade. Clay Buchholz is kind of their only starting depth, though it's also a bit of a stretch to even call him that. And of course, while these various bad teams would likely be happy to take him on free of charge, that's not how trades work. The Sox aren't going to be getting anything terribly significant back, particularly if they expect the taker to pay Buchholz' remaining salary (a demand which would limit their trade partners to relatively few teams that are both bad and wealthy).
But the player they do get is likely to be around for longer than Buchholz would be, even if he never sees the majors. That's the most likely outcome, too, but you never know. Boston's current de facto ace came over in exchange for a failed top-prospect in a trade of seemingly little note. And no matter what happens with the "return," the trade would at least serve the purpose of getting the Red Sox and Buchholz out of their awkward relationship.
So can the Red Sox trade? Almost certainly, yes. Will they? That remains to be seen.