The time to stockpile rotation depth was a long time ago, but with the season nearing, David Price gone, and a big injury to Chris Sale, it’d be best for the Sox to get somebody penciled into the rotation that’s not Ryan Weber or Hector Velazquez. They did make a move just a few days ago in signing Collin McHugh, but the former Astro is also not going to be ready until a bit after the season starts, and it’s not even clear what role he’ll fill when he is ready. Any new addition may not be much better than what they already have, but it’ll push the depth back to where they belong and will serve as an insurance policy in case any one of Eduardo Rodriguez, Martín Pérez, or Nathan Eovaldi go down.
Richard will be 36 this year and is coming off an injury-plagued season that only saw him appear in 10 games thanks to a right knee injury as well as a left lat injury. At his best, he’s a durable innings eater who provides volume, but at 36 and coming off two injuries, he’s about as good a bet to stay healthy as Pérez and Eovaldi. He’s also not all that good, but considering the new management and direction the Sox are headed, this front office might not care. But, at the same time, if you want to be terrible you can just run Matt Hall and Ryan Weber out there.
Matt Harvey is a month away from turning 31, if you want to feel old. He’s not much of an option, either. His best shot of sticking anywhere is as a relief project. Sadly, his career just might be over.
If you forget that he tried to fight a reporter last year, Vargas fits the bill for what the Sox need: mediocre, cheap innings. He’s 37 and is five years removed from Tommy John, but he could fill a hole. He pitched the better part of a full season last year, only missing two starts in May due to a hamstring strain. It’s not an attractive profile, but we’re picking from the bottom of the barrel here.
The most fun option left is Buchholz. He’s played for three teams since he was traded from Boston, finding the most success during a brief stint with the Diamondbacks. He wasn’t able to replicate that success with Toronto last season, but I would enjoy seeing Buchholz taking the hill more than any of the other options out there. I’m intrigued as to how he put up a 2.01 ERA in 98.1 innings in 2018. I’m not going to try and tell you that it’s possible he does that again, but an old franchise favorite (for some, at least) returning during a time of need would be a sight for sore eyes.
If the Red Sox want to complete their transformation into the American League Mets, they need to start bringing guys back solely because they’re familiar with the clubhouse. Cashner was acquired last year in a half-measured attempt to beef up the back-end of the rotation and disappointed in every conceivable way. Much like everyone else on this list, he’s not going to be good, but he can give you 160 cheap innings. Cashner has managed to stay fairly healthy the past few seasons, so a reunion makes sense. It is worth nothing, though, that he’s been marketing himself as a reliever.
If things sound bleak, that’s because they are. This is what happens when you let the market blow past you and don’t bother to flag down the better non-roster invitees. It’d be nice to have Felix Hernandez and Shelby Miller right about now. Cut and opt-out dates are coming soon so some of these guys will hit the market again and the Sox would be right to capitalize on that. The way things are shaping up, this is going to be a long season, but putting forth some kind of effort would be a gesture of goodwill after shipping off the franchise’s best player. It’s not much, but I’d much rather see if Félix Hernández has anything left in the tank than watch Matt Hall and Chris Mazza lob slop.