The Red Sox are heating up their search for a starting pitcher, reliever, and righthanded hitter, hoping to land some pieces that will keep them ahead of the Rays, Orioles, and Yankees in the American League East.
The Sox will scout Jake Peavy’s starts for the White Sox Thursday and Tuesday before the non-waiver trade deadline. Peavy could be dealt earlier, especially if his Thursday start goes well.
A major league source indicated Peavy makes the most sense for the Red Sox because of the righthander’s relationship with Juan Nieves, Boston’s pitching coach who was an assistant pitching coach with the White Sox. Nieves knows Peavy inside and out.
The Red Sox also have interest in righthanded closer Addison Reed and injured righty Jesse Crain, both of whom also play for the White Sox. Crain (shoulder strain) could be ready to pitch by the weekend. The Red Sox scouted Francisco Rodriguez, who landed in Baltimore, but felt the asking price was too high. The Orioles gave up infielder Nick Delmonico, who, according to Baseball America, was the organization’s fourth-best prospect.
The Red Sox already acquired lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton from the White Sox — in exchange for outfielder Brandon Jacobs, a good athlete who wasn’t among Boston’s top prospects. They’d like to make a similar deal for a righthanded reliever who could augment Junichi Tazawa.
One AL scout said, “The Red Sox could make a blockbuster if they want to. They have enough high-level prospects to make something big happen, but right now they’re overly protecting them. They have a few layers of prospects that they could peel off a layer and not feel it.
“It’s going to be interesting when push comes to shove what they do. It’s tough to be a good team with a good farm system because other teams are expecting you to do something. The Red Sox have a chance to win it all, really, so why would you hold back?”
That is the question. Should they hold back to protect the future, or do you go for it when you can? The Nationals made the decision to protect Stephen Strasburg’s arm last September, so he didn’t pitch in the playoffs.
“We’ll be aggressive in making phone calls and pursuing things and gathering information and trying to find ways to improve the team,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “What that turns into, I don’t know . . . It’s one thing to want something. There’s got to be a match. There’s got to be two to dance. If we find a partner that makes sense, we’ll pursue it.”
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said seeking ways to help the team is “one of our fundamental obligations.”
“We’ll be aggressive in covering the waterfront and talking to clubs,” Lucchino said. “If there’s a player we hear may be available on the market, we will be there to talk about it to see what the possibilities are. Since we got here, every year, we have tried to do something at the end of July, when we’ve been in a race in particular. That doesn’t mean we always do it.”
The Red Sox are monitoring Astros starter Bud Norris, but there’s growing evidence that Norris might not fare well in the AL East.
“He’s not ideal for Boston,” said one veteran talent evaluator. “He’d be better off in the National League with the Cardinals or a team like that. But if you’re desperate he’s certainly a respectable starting pitcher, but just not the impact guy you’d be looking for. Given Baltimore’s state of the starting rotation, he might fit better with them.”
Another area the Red Sox may be monitoring is catching help.
With the uncertainty of David Ross’s comeback following a second concussion, the Red Sox have only Ryan Lavarnway behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Lavarnway has started only eight games since his recall June 18.
Veteran catching help is hard to find, so this may be an area the Red Sox will have to get by with.
As for a righthanded hitter, it’s not the most pressing need and something that could wait until after the deadline. There’s no evidence the Sox have made a push for Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who is being pursued by the Yankees. A preferred candidate for the Sox could be Philadelphia third baseman Michael Young, but the Phillies are in that gray area where they don’t know if they’re in or out. The Phillies will want more than a mid-level prospect for Young.
The Red Sox have scouted the Brewers extensively, from Rodriguez to righty John Axford. Additionally, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who is on the disabled list with left knee woes, could be a target.
The Twins are also in play. They’d be willing to move starter Mike Pelfrey and first baseman Justin Morneau, but would ask a ton for closer Glen Perkins, who has been one of the most asked-about players as the deadline approaches.
The Red Sox would have one of the best chances to land Perkins if they were willing to give up a prospect or two they consider untouchable.
The Cubs would like to move reliever/closer Kevin Gregg and it’s a move the Red Sox could make.
Felix Doubront now has 12 quality starts, tying him with John Lackey for the team lead. It snapped a career-high seven-game unbeaten streak since his last loss, June 8. Doubront has allowed three or fewer runs in 17 of his 18 starts this season, including his last 13 starts. He held the Rays to no extra-base hits and did it for the fourth time overall this season. “I thought I made a good pitch to [Wil] Myers [in the third inning] but he was able to bloop it in for the hit and scored two runs,” Doubront said. “[David Price] pitched a great game. Not much you can do.” Doubront felt he had no play to make on the safety squeeze attempt by Ben Zobrist in the third ining, which led to Myers’s two-run single. All the runners were safe as the runner held at third . . . Jacoby Ellsbury was back in the lineup Wednesday against the Rays after a scheduled day off. He went 0 for 4.
Buchholz throws well
Injured Clay Buchholz threw well off flat ground on Wednesday, according to manager John Farrell, who reiterated that Buchholz will throw three bullpen sessions, a simulated game, and then at least one minor league rehab start. The righty threw from 90 feet “with increasing intensity,” Farrell said, and is “moving in the right direction.” But as for a possible date of return? “I haven’t gotten to the point of a date,” Farrell said. “I look at it as those three phases along the way and whatever date that brings us to. Clay will be on the mound when he’s ready. I think it’s premature to start to forecast any kind of time range.”