After a subpar 2015 season, the Red Sox drastically changed their front office structure. Dave Dombrowski, the former Tigers GM, is now the president of baseball operations, and Mike Hazen has taken over Ben Cherington's role (although he undoubtedly has far less decision making power).
Despite dolling out a combined $265.5 million in contracts to three players (Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval), the Red Sox finished 78-84, just a seven game improvement over the previous year. After two consecutive losing seasons, Boston appears ready to make serious changes, which could lead to several prospects being traded to secure an ace.
"Boston is said to be more willing than in past years to trade top prospects to get the ace they need, and that may have something to do with Dave Dombrowski taking over for Ben Cherington. After two straight off years, there is an urgency to win, and they must get a top-of-the-rotation starter. It's a decent year to be looking for one considering the star-studded free agent list. But they have the prospects to make deals as well."
While Dombrowski could dip into the free agent market as Jon Heyman points out, at least for now, it appears that Boston is more comfortable trading for a starter, rather than signing one to a new contract. Heyman also notes that top prospects Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Anderson Espinoza won't be made available, but "other than that trio, it is believed Boston would listen."
As of now, there haven't been any indications as to who the Red Sox might target, but with the GM meetings coming up next month, it's likely that their offseason plans will become clearer.