It won’t be an easy decision for them to make, but the Boston Red Sox need to trade for Cliff Lee at the trade deadline.
The Red Sox were not thought of as a serious contender when the 2013 season started, but at this point, they have the best record in the American League. Their outstanding starting pitching has been one of the main reasons for their surprising success, but they’ve begun to falter in the last month.
Clay Buchholz is 9-0, but he hasn’t pitched since June 8 because of a neck injury. The Red Sox are optimistic he will return after the All-Star break, but there’s a chance he won’t be as dominating as he was to start the year. Jon Lester started the season 6-0, but has seen his ERA rise by nearly two runs over the last two months. He’s once again falling behind batters and getting knocked out of games early because of a high pitch count.
And does any Red Sox fan want John Lackey pitching a big game in October?
So while there are needs surrounding their bullpen depth, the most pressing issue is their starting pitching.
Enter Cliff Lee.
Lee is having a tremendous season for a Philadelphia Phillies team that’s quickly falling out of the playoff chase. He’s 10-2 with a 2.73 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. He is an innings eater who also has a reputation for being a great postseason pitcher. His 2.52 postseason ERA is a full run lower than his ERA in the regular season.
The obvious drawback to adding Lee is the huge money he is owed over the next two seasons ($50 million). However, the Red Sox can win it all this year, and his addition is well worth the future money. Plus, the asking price for Lee will likely be lower because the Phillies could be eager to get his contract off the books. The Red Sox would likely have to give up one top prospect, but not two. If that’s the case, Lee makes perfect sense for Boston.
It’s never easy to trade away prospects and take on a big contract, but the Red Sox are playing with house money. They weren’t sure what type of season they would have this year, particularly after the disastrous 2012 season. Now, they have the look of a World Series contender, but need to add one more big piece to give themselves a real chance.
B.L. is a sports writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip.