It's a seller's market for starting pitching

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It's a seller's market for starting pitching

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.

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.