Nearly this entire offseason, fans of the Boston Red Sox have had to sit and patiently wait for rookie GM Ben Cherington to make significant improvements to their lacking starting rotation. On Saturday night, we got word that he may be on verge of doing just that.
The Red Sox agreed to trade veteran shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies for starting pitcher Clay Mortenson early Saturday evening. While it may not seem much of a big trade on the surface, moving Scutaro off the roster does wonders for the Red Sox' payroll.
In October, Cherington agreed to pick up Scutaro's $6 million club option and allow him to be the club's starting shortstop for the 2012 season. We've heard all offseason about how much money the Red Sox don't have to spend on starting pitchers. With Scutaro's $6 million dollars off the books, they may have just gotten themselves into a veteran starting pitchers' price range; one Roy Oswalt.
Just a few minutes after the trade was completed, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick said a baseball source to him suggested that with Scutaro's contract off the books, the Red Sox are set to make an "aggressive bid" for the veteran free agent. Jon Paul Morosi confirms the Red Sox' interest as the most "serious" of any other team.
With limited suitors out there for Oswalt at this point, Ben Cherington may set himself up for another witty and crafty offseason move.
With the Red Sox now processing $6 million they won't have to pay Scutaro this season, they now will be able to make a one-year offer that Roy Oswalt, at this point couldn't refuse. His current asking price is a one year deal with a salary close to $8 million, something the Red Sox could very well pull off at this point in time.
Over his 11 year career in the majors, Oswalt has established himself as one of the better pitchers in baseball. During that span, Oswalt is a career 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA in over 2,000 innings pitched. He's also established himself as one of the games' best strikeout pitchers, with a 1,759 career K's and a career 7.3 SO/9 pitcher. Not to mention, he's a three time All-Star and is an experienced post season pitcher.
If signed, Oswalt would likely fit right behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz in the Red Sox' 2012 pitching rotation. An Oswalt addition would also allow the Sox to pace recently converted starter Daniel Bard during his transition in Spring Training. Low cost guys like Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva and Vicente Padilla could be used as insurance policies if Bard ultimately is a better fit in the bullpen.
If the Red Sox were able to sign a guy like Oswalt with a proven track record as a pitcher to one-year deal worth about $6-8 million with incentives, it would be an absolute bargain. If Cherington were able to pull this off, that'd be yet another very solid move executed by him to improve the team without breaking the bank or depleting the farm system.
With teams like the Yankees and Rangers already fortifying their rotations, the Red Sox appear to be the most interested in the 33-year old pitcher. Now that they have cleared the necessary cap space to sign him, an agreement between the Sox and Oswalt seems almost inevitable.