By Jeff Louderback
Even with the Red Sox reportedly shopping Josh Beckett, they are in the market for a starting pitcher. The cost in prospects for Miami’s Josh Johnson appears to be too prohibitive, Zack Greinke has already been traded to the Angels and Matt Garza is nursing an injury. Chances are, the Red Sox will pursue an arm like current Cleveland starter and former Red Sox fan favorite Justin Masterson.
According to media reports, the Red Sox sent a scout to watch Masterson’s start on Sunday when he served up 10 runs (eight earned) and seven hits in 5,2 innings. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported that the Indians could make the 27-year-old available after they were swept by the Twins over the weekend, have dropped seven of 10 and have a 50-52 record.
Masterson was 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA in 33 starts last season for the Indians but has struggled to a 7-9 mark and a 4.47 ERA in 22 starts this year. Still, right-hander who was a second round pick of the Red Sox out of San Diego State in 2006 and was packaged in a deal for Victor Martinez at the trade deadline in 2009 averages 6.1 innings per start and would give Boston a group of four under-30 starters along with Jon Lester (28), Clay Buchholz (27), Felix Doubront (24) and Franklin Morales (26). Though Morales has just five starts this season and is currently in the bullpen, his long term future in Boston is likely as a starter.
Even if the Red Sox don’t deal Beckett this season, they can make room for Masterson by removing Aaron Cook from the rotation, either via trade or by dispatching him to the bullpen.
Unlike 29-year-old Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas, who the Red Sox have also been linked to in trade rumors, Masterson would cost more in terms of prospects, but since he is under team control through 2014 and he has thrived in Boston, he would be a worthwhile acquisition.