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.