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MLB Trade Rumors: Will the Red Sox Trade for a Starting Pitcher?

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The Red Sox have had a terrible offseason after their September collapse. Their manager Terry Francona resigned/was fired, their GM Theo Epstein left for the Cubs, their dugout drinking has been one of the bigger off the field stories, and yesterday they received news that starter John Lackey needs Tommy John surgery. That actually may be a good thing after the year he had in 2011.

Coming into the season, the Red Sox were the favorites to represent the American League in the World Series, especially after signing outfielder Carl Crawford and trading for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez . In fact, in a preseason poll of ESPN baseball writers, 45 of them picked the Red Sox to make the World Series, and no other AL team received a vote. Not the Yankees. Not the Rangers. Not the Rays. Yet the Red Sox ended the season in third place in the AL East for the second straight season.

The Red Sox starting rotation underperformed for the most part with only Jon Lester and Josh Beckett performing to expectations in 2011. Starter Clay Buchholz managed only 14 starts due to a back injury, John Lackey struggled all year long and now we know why, and 5th starters Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield managed just 10 wins between them with ERAs over 5.00. Matsuzaka managed just 8 starts in 2011 as he, like Lackey this offseason, had Tommy John surgery.

Yesterday, Peter Abraham from the Boston Globe suggested that the Red Sox trade a combination of major leaguers and minor league prospects for a starting pitcher this offseason. More on Abraham's thoughts after the jump:

Abraham opined that since the free agent market for starting pitchers is limited, that the Red Sox should seek to make a trade for a starting pitcher for two reasons. One, they obviously need another starter with Lackey out for 2012 and there is no telling when Buchholz will be healthy. Two, the clubhouse needs a shakeup.

Here is what Abraham wrote:

In Kevin Youkilis, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson and Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox have four players in their roster who could return a pitcher depending on how they're packaged.

Their prospect list includes Will Middlebrooks, Bryce Brentz, Ryan Kalish, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Iglesias and Brandon Jacobs. Middlebrooks and Kalish are close to being major league ready while Brentz, Bogaert, Iglesias and Jacobs have significant potential.

Could a package of Youkilis, Reddick and Bogaerts bring back a starter from the Giants or Athletics? Both teams in the Bay Area badly need offense.

Ben Cherington has a good relationship with future Padres GM Josh Byrnes. Maybe there's a deal to be made there.

I think Youkilis, Reddick and or Lowrie in some combination with a prospect like Will Middlebrooks, Bryce Brentz or Xander Bogaerts could bring back a very good starting pitcher, such as Matt Can from the Giants or Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics. As Abraham states, both teams need to boost their offense in 2012, and have pitching to trade. Cain's salary jumps from $7 million to $15 million in 2012, and the Giants may want to use that money to sign Jose Reyes, or to offer starter Tim Lincecum a long term deal. But, Cain does have a limited no-trade clause in his contract where he can block deals to 8 teams.

Or how about trading Will Middlebrooks to the Astros for starter Wandy Rodriguez? Many say Wandy would get blasted in the AL, but the Red Sox need a starter and Wandy was rumored to be available at the July 31st trade deadline. Or, would the Dodgers deal Chad Billingsley for Kevin Youkilis? Billingsley could use a change of scenery and the Dodgers need a third baseman, so this could make sense for both teams.

The Marlins could also get involved here as they could offer Ricky Nolasco or Anibal Sanchez for Youkilis, as they also need a third baseman, but they also don't have excess pitching to give up, especially with the uncertainty that is Josh Johnson's shoulder.