Red Sox consider pitching, eye Jimenez

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Red Sox consider pitching, eye Jimenez

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- For the better part of the last few weeks, the Red Sox have been in search of some help through a deal. Now, it seems as if that quest will likely extend all the way until Sunday afternoon, when the non-waiver trade deadline looms.

With uncertainty over Clay Buchholz's immediate future -- he hasn't pitched in six weeks and his back is still enough of a concern that the team is flying him across the country to visit with a specialist Monday -- the team's clear focus is on obtaining a starting pitcher.

For now, the team's fourth and fifth starters -- Andrew Miller and Tim Wakefield -- have only two wins since July 7 and the prospect of going into the playoffs with uncertainty beyond Josh Beckett and Jon Lester is understandably unsettling.

The problem, as is often the case at this time of year, is the marketplace.

With little quality starting pitching available, what little that's out there is predictably overpriced.

The best available arm belongs to Ubaldo Jimenez, but the Colorado Rockies appear to be seeking a package that would include three of the Red Sox' top prospects -- plus others.

The New York Yankees have already balked at the Rockies' asking price and some reports have the Red Sox being the most aggressive team on Jimenez.

It's possible that the Sox are merely keeping themselves in the bidding with Colorado so as to ensure that he doesn't wind up with the Yankees at the 11th hour.

The Rockies have been rather public about shopping Jimenez. They were reportedly unhappy with his poor conditioning this past spring, while Jimenez was said to be miffed that the Rockies extended the contracts of teamamtes Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, but didn't reward him with a new deal.

If hard feelings exists (to say nothing of the club's obvious willingness to move him), it may be too late for the Rockies to pull back. On Sunday, they could lower their demands and settle for two top prospects.

If that doesn't happen, the Sox may be dealing with some other pitchers who are far more problematic than Jimenez, though, it would follow, also far more affordable.

The Red Sox were one of a handful of teams with scouts watching lefty Erik Bedard come off the DL Friday night in Seattle, but whether it was because of a month-long layoff, Bedard was not impressive, allowing five runs in just an inning and a third.

That should, in theory, make Bedard less expensive in terms of prospects. But his poor outing might also make the Red Sox pause.

Hiroki Kuroda is yet another option, but the pursuit of the Los Angeles Dodgers righthander is complicated by the fact that he has a full no-trade clause. Attempting to work out a deal Sunday for Kuroda, who is known to be deliberate in his thinking, may be quite duanting.

The best the Sox can hope for is a lowering of demands, reducing their risk while adding an arm. It's highly unlikely they'll know whether they succeed until the final hours Sunday afternoon.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.