Boston Red Sox: Potential Free Agent Starting Pitchers

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Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

If the Red Sox are not able to land a top free agent, there remains a solid group of starters on the market who may be much cheaper to sign and still deliver solid value. However, selling the signings to the fan base that just had to be sold on Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Clay Buchholz will be difficult.

Scott Kazmir is a lefty who was targeted by the Red Sox…six or seven years ago. Kazmir was out of the majors at one point and rehabilitated his career over the past few years. He went to Houston for the playoff run but struggled.

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Yovani Gallardo would be an intriguing signing…in 2012. He was solid in Milwaukee and was good in Texas but is a back-end of the rotation guy at this point of his career. The Red Sox are already loaded with those kind of pitchers.

Mike Leake is another back-end of the rotation starter who was an average National League starter in Cincinnati. Leake is not a strikeout pitcher and does not inspire any more confidence than Wade Miley. Leake is just 28, but is nothing more than another rotation guy who will contribute little.

Wei-Yin Chen is 30-year-old lefty who has pitched in the American League East. He is solid pitcher who would be a great fit in the middle of the rotation if it was not already stuffed full of middle of the rotation pitchers. If the Red Sox could unload someone like Rick Porcello to add a bullpen piece, a pitcher like Chen may make a great replacement at a decent price.

Hisashi Iwakuma is an interesting free agent in that he was a solid number two starter in the American League just a year or two ago. Iwakuma had an injury-plagued 2015, but finished strong. It really seems unlikely that the Mariners will let him get away, but again if a spot opens up in the rotation he could be a quality depth starter.

John Lackey could have pitched for the Red Sox last year for the MLB minimum contract. Instead, Boston had Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Lackey is 37 years old and probably interested in staying in the National League. After the tumultuous first turn in Boston, it is doubtful Lackey would consider making a return trip, although he seems like someone the Red Sox should be interested in.

Jeff Samardzija was a name linked to the Red Sox over the past few years. He was great with bad Cubs teams and was surprisingly picked up by Oakland in 2014. He was dealt to the White Sox to be a one-two punch with Chris Sale. Instead his ERA was closer to 5.00 this year after being under 4.00 the past four seasons.

He is workhorse and will get paid, but whether he is really a top of the rotation starter remains to be seen. Boston could finally bite on Samardzija, but he is a step below Cueto and Zimmermann.

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The Red Sox need an ace and if the answer is free agency, they need to bring home the bacon and sign either Zack Greinke or David Price. Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann are the consolation prizes and may be just good enough to help get Boston back into the playoffs. However, the rest of the starters are not going to cut it for the front of the rotation and will signal another year destined for the bottom of the American League East.