ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Thursday to discuss the Red Sox‘ recent moves and to look ahead to the 2015 season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Red Sox have been very active in the last day or so with adding to their starting rotation. Wednesday night they reportedly traded for Arizona’s Wade Miley and Thursday they traded for Rick Porcello with the Tigers, and also reportedly signed free agent Justin Masterson. Olney feels the way things are going, they are in good shape relative to the rest of the American League East.
“I would say this, Miley, Porcello, you’re talking about No. 3 type starters, but here’s the thing, you have to remember where the Red Sox are in context of this division,” said Olney. “The Orioles are way down, they’ve taken a couple of huge hits during this offseason. The Yankees are in a very murky situation. A lot of older players. The Blue Jays have some real holes on that team. Tampa Bay seems to be taking a step back. I still think with a couple more moves, the Red Sox could easily win this division again, especially with the additions they have made with their lineup.”
Although the team has added three pitchers, none of which are so called “aces.” Olney notes adding a potential No. 1 starter, such as Cole Hamels, may be easier said than done given the current market.
“It’s really not clear whether they are going to get that No. 1 because like a game of musical chairs, the options are certainly drying up,” Olney said. “We’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been talk with the Phillies that we know of about Cole Hamels, as much as we maybe anticipated. They may already know this is something that is not going to happen. They are on his no-trade list for a reason and a lot of pitchers, especially where they are in the second half of their careers, they don’t want to pitch in the American League. They don’t want to go to the American League East. Imagine if you are Cole Hamels and you could try and steer yourself into a situation where you could go back to Southern California where he is from, or you could leave yourself in a position where you have to be the guy to replace Jon Lester in Boston — in terms of comfort level that’s not really close.”
Olney also discussed Jon Lester signing with the Cubs for $155 million over six years. He said he was always under the impression if Boston matched or was close to another team’s offer, Lester would return to Boston.
“I know from from talking with people who knew Lester, that if it was close, or the Red Sox had matched the other offer, that he would have been in Boston,” said Olney.
He feels the Red Sox made a mistake with their initial four-year, $70 million offer last spring, which represented a total misread of the market. That mistake got them into the position they were in, with other teams fighting for Lester’s services.
“I think they made a huge mistake at the beginning of the negotiations and at the end can you really say they were completely at fault at the end in terms of what they offered? No, when you look at the history of long-term deals you can understand why they would hold back at the back end,” said Olney. “Look, if you make an offer of $70 million and then 10 months later you’re offering almost double that to the same player, that tells you you made a mistake. Not only did you make a misread the market in terms of where it was going to go because he wound up being offered as they say it close to $100 million more than what you offered, but you also misread the person that Lester would react so strongly to that.
“So basically once he got that offer of $70 million he essentially shuts down negotiations and you can’t reengage in those negotiations during the course of the summer. Look, there’s no question when you look at that offer in relation to where the market was for guys like Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels, it wasn’t even close. It was 50, 60 percent less than what other guys are getting. You can understand why it would become a competition for Jon.”