Boston has Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy and Lackey all returning for the 2014 season and additional starting depth in Brandon Workman, who rose through the minors as a starter and made three starts with the Red Sox before converting to a relief role down the stretch.
They also a number of well-regarded arms in the upper minors and players like Allen Webster, Anthony Ranuado and Matt Barnes could impact the rotation in 2014. This deep reserve of starters has inspired plenty of trade speculation this winter. However, Browne believes the club will wait until spring training to see if everyone remains healthy and effective before looking to ease their crowded starting rotation picture.
Even at that time, John Lackey is a long shot to be moved in Browne's opinion. The 35-year-old pitcher is coming off of an excellent 2013 season, posting a 3.52 ERA in 189 1/3 innings pitched after missing the entire 2012 season following Tommy John surgery. He is owed $15.25 million for the 2014 season but a clause in his contract gives the Red Sox an option year at the league minimum salary for 2015 because of the time lost to the elbow injury.
The additional year of control would make Lackey an attractive option for teams in need of starting pitching, but with Lester, Peavy and Dempster all hitting the open market after the coming season, the Red Sox may want to avoid opening another hole in the 2015 rotation.
Boston has been quiet since signing catcher A.J. Pierzynski and reliever Edward Mujica in the first week of December. They continue to be the favorites to land Stephen Drew, but the 2013 World Champions have few obvious needs to address at this point.