According to Alex Speier, the Red Sox are unlikely to add another starting pitcher before the season begins. The Red Sox have been linked to both Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt in recent weeks, but neither player currently sees Boston as their landing spot. Jackson allegedly has better offers elsewhere, and it’s been widely speculated that Oswalt wants to pitch close to home next season.
Outside of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox’s last two spots in the rotation are up for grabs. With Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva and Aaron Cook all vying for those slots, the Red Sox could benefit from adding an effective veteran like Jackson or Oswalt. While back injuries limited his effectiveness this past season, Oswalt still managed to put up a 2.5 WAR in just 139 innings pitched. He’s much less of a risk on a one year deal, but that’s somewhat moot if he doesn’t want to play in Boston. Jackson would also be a good fit and won’t require a lengthy financial commitment, but the Red Sox reportedly only offered $5 or $6 million on a one year deal.
The Red Sox could choose to increase their other to both players, but the team is dangerously close to surpassing the luxury tax. While the Marco Scutaro trade was supposed to clear up salary for another starting pitcher, that money might be reallocated if the Red Sox have to go to arbitration with David Ortiz, who filed for $16.5 million. The team countered with a $12.65 million contract — a small increase from Ortiz’s $12.5 salary in 2011. Unless the Red Sox are confident they can beat Ortiz in a hearing, it seems likely that he’ll receive a raise. As with most cases, the team might be better off avoiding a hearing altogether and settling with Ortiz for something around the midpoint.
While the Red Sox could certainly use another starter, their desire to stay under the luxury tax may prevent them from significantly raising their current offers to Jackson or Oswalt. Unless Jackson or Oswalt are willing to lower their asking prices, it sounds like the Red Sox might just enter spring training with their current collection of starting pitchers.