As the Red Sox head into the 2016 season, there's still some worry about their starting rotation. While they added David Price in the offseason, the four starters behind him are Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, with Steven Wright, and Roenis Elias battling for the final spot.
"Some scouts assigned to watch the Red Sox don't think the team should be too excited about its starting pitching beyond David Price. And the bullpen, especially now with Carson Smith injured, isn't as rock-solid as it was on paper this offseason, expect for Craig Kimbrel."
There's little reason to worry about Porcello, as he had a significantly better second half after makings some adjustments, but it's tough to count on the remaining three. Buchholz was on pace for a great season in 2015, but he ran into injury troubles (again) and was forced to miss nearly three months of the season; Kelly, despite having "great stuff", was abysmal in 2015 after predicting he'd win the Cy Young Award; Wright posted a 4.09 ERA along with a 5.01 FIP in 72.2 innings last season; and Elias struggled in 2015 after a promising 2014 campaign.
While it's not out of the realm of possibility that Price, Porcello, Buchholz, and Kelly could be a talented foursome, it's tough to count on. Cafardo notes that teams have been targeting the Red Sox young outfielders, which could potentially open the door to landing a starting pitcher.
"The Indians have been pitching a trade [to Boston], but Mookie Betts is untouchable, and it seems far-fetched that Jackie Bradley Jr. would be dealt unless the return were significant. The only "young" outfielder the Red Sox might consider dealing would be Rusney Castillo, and he's 28 and earns $10 million a year. The Red Sox would have to eat some money."
Boston has been connected, at least in rumors, to having an interest in Sonny Gray, although it would take an incredible trade package to land him. While the Oakland has said they have no desire to move Gray, it's the A's so anything is possible for the right price.
Despite Boston's need for a starting pitcher, they can likely get by without having to trade for one. Henry Owens, who was recently sent down to AAA, will likely be recalled at some point in 2016, and Eduardo Rodriguez should be back from his knee injury by the end of April, or the beginning of May. Barring another injury, or serious decrease in production from one of their starters, Boston should be able to get by until Rodriguez returns; but if he doesn't prove to be effective, or someone else falters, Dave Dombrowski might have to enter the trade market.