MLB Insider: Grading 4 free-agent fits for Red Sox following Lucas Giolito injury

With Lucas Giolito possibly out for the season, will the Red Sox dabble in the free-agent starting pitcher market? Let's grade four potential fits.

World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game Two
World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game Two / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

With the news that Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito likely has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and flexor strain in his right elbow, and could miss the 2024 season, an already glaring need became that much more pressing.

Here are four free-agent options, and the likelihood that any of them could end up in Boston:

Who will replace Lucas Giolito in Boston? Grading some Red Sox replacements

  1. What about Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell?
  2. Another 2023 All-Star pitcher
  3. The cost-effective option
Mike Maddux, Jordan Montgomery
World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game Two / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

What about Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell?

On paper, this makes so much sense for the Red Sox. He would fill their need of a frontline starting pitcher, and adequately replace Giolito should he be out for the season. Montgomery had been throwing and working out at Boston College and his wife, McKenzie, moved to Boston since she started a dermatology residency at a local hospital.

The two sides met on Zoom earlier this offseason, but never came close to a deal. And there’s reason to be skeptical that the two sides will ultimately come to an agreement.

Red Sox president/CEO John Henry told reporters that he expects the payroll to be lower than last year. If he didn’t think that the team was good enough with Giolito to invest in Montgomery, it’s unlikely that he will change his thinking with Giolito possibly out for the season. 

Grading the fit: 8/10.

Grading the likelihood: 3/10.

Blake Snell

A lot of what I said about Montgomery can apply here: he would give the Red Sox an established frontline starter and properly replace Giolito.

But like Montomgery, it’s probably unlikely that Snell will end up in Boston. The price point will likely be too high for a Red Sox team that is looking to cut payroll. I expect, if the Red Sox add a starting pitcher, it will be in the mid-tier or less category.

Grading the fit: 4/10.

Michael Lorenzen
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Six / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

Another 2023 All-Star pitcher

I think Lorenzen is what makes the most sense for the Red Sox. Both players will likely command one-year deals (Lorenzen continues to seek a two-year deal) and should not break the bank.

Heck, they even made sense before Giolito went down with an injury. Now, it’s something that they almost *have* to do.

Here’s what I recently wrote about Lorenzen:

“Free-agent pitcher Michael Lorenzen is fully healthy and has thrown bullpens for teams this offseason. Before his no-hitter on Aug. 9, where he threw a career-high 124 pitches, Lorenzen was an All-Star and had a 3.22 ERA in 122.2 innings with a 134+ and 2.1 fWAR. Sean Manaea, who was in the same seasonal age (31 at the time) as Lorenzen, had posted a 4.44 ERA in 117.2 innings and 1.1 fWAR – and secured a two-year, $28 million contract earlier this offseason.”

Lorenzen won’t get the same money as Manaea, which further bolsters his fit in Boston. I think both he and Clevinger are one’s to watch.

Grading the fit: 6/10.

Mike Clevinger
Chicago White Sox v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The cost-effective option

If the Red Sox aren’t willing to go two years for Lorenzen, then I think a one-year deal for Clevinger makes a lot of sense.

Clevinger, a right-handed pitcher, hasn’t seen the market that he anticipated at the start of the offseason. The 33-year-old is coming off a bounce back season with the Chicago White Sox in which he posted a 3.77 ERA in 24 starts.

On the field, the risk with Clevinger is that he hasn’t thrown more than 131.1 innings since 2018. He has had two Tommy John surgeries. He’d be a low-risk, high-reward option on a one-year contract – after all, there are no such thing as bad one-year deals – and if the Red Sox fall out of contention, could be attractive trade bait come July.

Grading the fit: 5/10.

Next. MLB Rumors: 3 pitchers Red Sox must sign after Lucas Giolito's season-ending injury. MLB Rumors: 3 pitchers Red Sox must sign after Lucas Giolito's season-ending injury. dark