It's a seller's market for starting pitching

It's a seller's market for starting pitching
December 5, 2011, 7:45 pm

DALLAS -- The relative lack of front-line starting pitchers on the free-agent market this winter -- C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle are considered the best of a thin lot -- has teams exploring the trade market for starters.

What they're finding, not surprisingly, is a seller's market with sky-high asking prices.

The list of established starters thought to be available in deals is a lengthy one and includes Oakland's Gio Gonzalez, Chicago's John Danks, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens, and Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie.

The demand for pitching is so great, and the free-agent options are so few, that teams with pitching to deal are demanding plenty in return.

Numerous reports have the White Sox asking for both catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Manny Banuelos -- arguably, the Yankees' two best prospects -- in return for Danks. The Yankees, unsurprisingly, passed on the proposal.

The Chicago Cubs are said to be taking a similar stance on Matt Garza. Garza is the club's best starter in a poor rotation, but the Cubs would be willing to listen. The asking price, however, would be huge -- befitting a healthy pitcher who remans under control for two more seasons.

Having cleaned out the top end of their farm system in the deal for Adrian Gonzalez a year ago this week, the Red Sox are dealing from a slight disadvantage in terms of their inventory of prospects.

They still have young players who interest other teams -- including catcher Ryan Lavarnway -- but they may not have two top prospects close to contributing at the big league level that many teams are seeking.

That could mean the Sox will fish around the shallow end of the free-agent pool, taking a similar tact to what the Yankees did last winter with Bartolo Colon.

In the past, the Sox have had a hard time attracting "depth'' starters in the winter because their rotation has filled out and veterans don't relish the idea of being stuck at Triple A.

But with both Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey sidelined following Tommy John surgery, they may be better able to sell low-cost veteran free agents on the opportunity to contribute in Boston.