MLB rumors: Red Sox using catching surplus to pursue starting pitching

Nick Goss
NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Red Sox have returned most of their roster from last year's World Series-winning team, but that doesn't mean president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn't looking to make improvements in certain areas.

MLB rumors: Red Sox using catching surplus to pursue starting pitching

The Boston Red Sox have returned most of their roster from last year's World Series-winning team, but that doesn't mean president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn't looking to make improvements in certain areas.

MLB rumors: Red Sox using catching surplus to pursue starting pitching originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

The Boston Red Sox have returned most of their roster from last year's World Series-winning team, but that doesn't mean president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn't looking to make improvements in certain areas.

Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal reported Tuesday that the Red Sox are dangling catchers Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart on the trade market in hopes of landing another starting pitcher.

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A major league source said Dombrowski has let it be known the Sox are seeking young starting pitching in return for either Vazquez or Swihart. The goal would be to get a younger, controllable back-end starter who could provide depth at a time when the Red Sox face some potential big losses to free agency after next season.

Both Chris Sale and Rick Porcello are in the final years of their contracts and while the Red Sox have some promising pitching in their minor league system - led by Jay Groome (currently recovering from Tommy John surgery last May) and Tanner Houck - the expectation is that there's little that will be ready to help at the big league level by 2020.

This isn't a huge surprise. It's obvious the Red Sox have excellent depth behind the plate, so it's a good position to start from when talking trades. The Red Sox and Mets reportedly discussed potential trades involving Boston's catching depth in the offseason, but nothing materialized. 

The Red Sox owe Chris Sale and Rick Porcello nearly $40 million in salary combined this season, per Spotrac, but both are in line for huge raises after the 2019 campaign when, as McAdam notes, they're eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Sale, in particular, is in line for a massive pay raise as he finishes a five-year, $32.5 million contract he signed as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He does have a somewhat concerning injury history, but when healthy he's a top Cy Young candidate. The Red Sox also must weigh the cost of re-signing some of their top position players who soon will need contract extensions. That group includes Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi. Re-signing everyone would be extremely expensive, even for a Red Sox team unafraid to spend, so tough decisions likely will need to be made.

If the Red Sox feel there's a chance one or both of Sale and Porcello might not be in Boston after 2019, then it makes perfect sense to pursue rotation depth. However, it's hard to imagine Vazquez or Swihart being enough to pull off that kind of acquisition. Trading good pitching for a catcher almost never makes sense. Vazquez and Swihart have had good moments in their MLB careers, but neither player would be an important piece on a winning team. 

The Red Sox might have to give up something of higher value to acquire the type of starting pitcher they desire.

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