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The Boston Red Sox have made their presence known in the Winter Meetings with the aggressive signings of Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, plugging the team’s holes at first base and right field. But the Red Sox still need to fill their biggest need: signing or trading for a starting pitcher.
With several options out in the market, the Red Sox have explored the possibility of trading for R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets. Even though the Red Sox have interest in the Cy Young winner, there are a number of reasons why the Red Sox should pass on Dickey and explore other alternatives.
After winning the Cy Young following a stellar 20-win season, it is reasonable to see why the Mets would want a large haul in return for Dickey. With the Red Sox gauging interest in Dickey, the Mets asked for top prospects Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Since this is the asking price to obtain Dickey, Boston should have backed away instantly. Within the Red Sox farm system, Bogaerts, Bradley, and Barnes are the most promising players for the Sox in the future. To trade away two of the best prospects in the farm system for Dickey isn’t worth it. Bogaerts is seen as the shortstop of the future, while Bradley seems destined to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in centerfield in a couple of years. Even if the Mets asked for just one of team’s top prospects, the answer should still be “no.” Bogaerts, Bradley, and Barnes are the central highlights in the Sox farm system now and will make a major impact once they make it to the big stage.
At the age of 38, the 2012 season was a career year for Dickey. Looking into his past, he has not been as successful. Sporting a career 3.98 ERA, Dickey has struggled in the American League in particular. In the American League from 2001 to 2009, Dickey’s lowest ERA was 4.62. With the Mets, meanwhile, his highest ERA was 3.28 (2011). Dickey has found success against the weaker offenses of the National League, but when it comes to the American League, he has been far from dominant. After seeing his American League statistics, the Red Sox should not trust that Dickey could sustain Cy Young type of numbers if he is traded to them.
Even with the Mets asking a lot in return for Dickey, the Red Sox still have plenty of other options to fill the rotation. It is assumed that since the Sox signed Napoli and the less heralded David Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway will be traded in exchange for pitching. Teams that have shown interest in Saltalamacchia (seemingly the more likely trade candidate of the two) include the White Sox and the Mets. If the Red Sox do decide to pull the trigger on a trade, general manager Ben Cherington could swap Saltalamacchia for Gavin Floyd of the White Sox or Jon Niese of the Mets, a much less costly target than Dickey. Otherwise, there are still plenty of starting pitching options in the free agent market like Shawn Marcum, Francisco Liriano, and Ryan Dempster (if he decides to accept an offer from the Red Sox, that is).
It is critical for the Red Sox to fill out the rotation with a reliable pitcher. But it is just as important for the team to be smart about which starting pitcher would be the best fit for the rotation and the franchise’s long term plans. If the Red Sox were to end up trading their two best prospects for Dickey, Cherington and the front office would be in a deep hole, especially if (or when) Dickey fails to live up to expectations in Boston.
Tags: Gavin Floyd, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jon Niese, Matt Barnes, Mike Napoli, New York Mets, r.a. dickey, Ryan Dempster, Ryan Lavarnway, Shane Victorino, Shaun Marcum, Xander Bogaerts