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Red Sox still hunting for pitching

Where will the Red Sox turn for starting pitching?

This is perhaps the most critical area of the team and arguably the biggest need they have. It was subpar last season and perhaps Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and a returning John Lackey will collectively improve it. But the Sox need some outside help. Ideally they need a top of the rotation starter, but it appears that ship has sailed.

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Remaining top free agents include Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, and Edwin Jackson. We hear the Red Sox are at least in on these guys. To what degree?

The Red Sox would seem to have to break their pattern of 3-year, $39 million deals to obtain one of them.

Otherwise they’re looking at possible trades.

The Cubs would still move Matt Garza. While he’s on schedule to start the season after an elbow injury, it may be that teams would have to watch him in spring training before executing a deal. What Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would want in return is what could nix things. The Cubs are trying to build up their young talent depth and there are players – Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. - the Red Sox just won’t part with.

Matt Garza could be attractive to the Red Sox in a trade.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Matt Garza could be attractive to the Red Sox in a trade.

The Marlins would likely deal Ricky Nolasco for the right price. Again, a middle-to end-of-the rotation starter. There’s always Gavin Floyd with the White Sox, though the Red Sox could shoot higher for John Danks. The Dodgers, who have hit the jackpot by signing Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, will make lefty Chris Capuano available. The Red Sox tried to deal for him during the September collapse of 2011.

Capuano, a West Springfield, Mass., native had a decent year for the Dodgers, going 12-12 with a 3.72 ERA and a very good 1.22 WHIP in 198 1/3 innings.

The Mets would deal the top two pitchers in their rotation – Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and veteran lefty Johan Santana. The Red Sox have talked to the Mets about Dickey. The Mets would have to eat the majority of Santana’s $25.5 million salary (and $5.5 million buyout) to deal him and they appear willing to do that.

The Indians could consider deals for Justin Masterson or Ubaldo Jimenez, but it would be costly.

Otherwise, the Sox will have to consider free agents like Shaun Marcum, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Chien Ming Wang, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Villanueva, and Derek Lowe-types. It doesn’t appear Ryan Dempster or Brett Myers want to (or in Myers’ case can) pitch in Boston.

There are in-house choices like Franklin Morales, Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa, and Andrew Miller.

The Red Sox have trade bait in Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but so far the Saltalamacchia market hasn’t been great and the Ellsbury market is difficult because of his sign-ability problem.

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