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Teams are calling Red Sox about extra starting pitchers

Clay Buchholz would likely bring a considerable return in a trade.FILE/BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

OXON HILL, Md. — One team that contacted the Red Sox Wednesday about their starting pitching surplus was told that only Clay Buchholz is available in a trade.

That certainly makes sense, as Buchholz is due to earn $13.5 million after the Red Sox exercised his 2017 option. That also indicates the Sox aren’t inclined to deal lefthander Drew Pomeranz, even though he may not crack the starting five.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski certainly acted like a man in the driver’s seat as he acknowledged fielding a few calls on his starting pitchers, including Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright. Dombrowski also said he received calls on depth starters Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Roenis Elias, all lefties and all likely to start next season in Pawtucket.


It seems like a nice position to be in, and Dombrowski didn’t feel compelled to make a deal on the final day of the Winter Meetings, and didn’t rule out taking all of his starting pitchers into spring training.

Teams, however, are looking at Boston’s situation and feel it’s a way to get a quality starter without having to delve into free agency, where the costs can be higher.

Buchholz will have a market but not a bigger one than Pomeranz, who made the National League All-Star team for the Padres before he was traded to the Red Sox July 14 for Boston’s top Sox pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza.

Pomeranz, who has two more seasons of arbitration before he can become a free agent, had an up-and-down experience with the Red Sox in 2016, finally ending up in the bullpen after a forearm ailment limited his usage.

Teams have been wondering how fit Pomeranz is as a result of the late-season forearm condition. Of course, Pomeranz came to the Red Sox under sketchy circumstances when the Padres withheld important medical information on Pomeranz’s elbow and shoulder.


The commissioner’s office slapped Padres general manager A.J. Preller on the wrist with a 30-day suspension and gave the Red Sox a chance to rescind the deal. The Sox were upset that they did not receive more compensation for the offense, but they declined to send Pomeranz back.

If Pomeranz stays, he likely would have to fight for a spot in the rotation or go to the bullpen.

“We have had a lot of phone calls on our pitchers, and different ones,” Dombrowski said. “We’re just sitting back at this point and collecting thought processes. We’re not aggressively looking into doing something but just digesting what’s in place. If we were aggressively looking to do something we could, but I don’t have a glaring hole on our major league roster at this time to address, in my opinion. So I think it’s important to gather information.

“There are also other conversations that have taken place between other clubs. There are free agents available, so as that stuff clears we may find teams who would be even more aggressive.”

Dombrowski wouldn’t say what he would be looking for in return in such a trade.

“I can’t really answer that,” he said. “We have traded a lot [of prospects] and wouldn’t mind replenishing some we have traded.”

Dombrowski said that while the Red Sox could go to spring training with the same number of starting pitchers, waiting too long to do something has its problems, as rosters could be set and the pool of available teams seeking a starter could be reduced.


“Could you [wait]? Yes,” he said. “It seems like there are not many big moves made in spring training. My instincts tell me it could happen before that.”

Teams such as Seattle, Miami, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Minnesota, and Arizona are looking for low-cost pitching options. As Dombrowski pointed out, there are free agent possibilities, but after Ivan Nova and maybe Jason Hammel there aren’t quality starters such as Buchholz or Pomeranz available.

It’s hard to speculate what Buchholz could bring, but quality pitching usually yields a strong return. The Red Sox had to give up their top pitching prospect to obtain Pomeranz, who is 28 and under salary control, but other than his strong half-season in San Diego had been yo-yoing from starter to reliever throughout his career.

Now, if you considered dealing Pomeranz, you’d have to get a similar return. A veteran such as Buchholz, who also has been an All-Star, would also have to yield a quality prospect or two.

While Dombrowski has had no problem dealing some of his young players, he knows that some pain comes with it.

Nobody likes to deplete their farm system unless it yields a championship, so the chance to add a prospect or two from another organization for what amounts to a higher-priced extra pitcher is appealing.

One National League adviser to a GM said the Red Sox are “in an ideal situation. Their competitors must be pulling their hair right now.


They not only got one of the best pitchers in baseball to add to two guys who have won Cy Youngs, they now have too many pitchers and they can trade them off. Unbelievable. That’s a scenario you dream about.”

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.