Shoot for Jon Lester—even if you miss, you’ll land Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson.

OK, so that’s not exactly how the saying goes. But it is the reality for the Boston Red Sox, who whiffed on a chance to bring back Lester at the MLB winter meetings but did manage to revamp their starting corps, which posted an unsightly 4.36 ERA in 2014.

The question now: Did Boston do enough to address its most glaring weakness and hurl itself back into contention?

Let’s look at the new additions one by one.

Porcello is the best prize of the bunch, which is why he cost Boston a key trade chip. To net the soon-to-be 26-year-old right-hander, Boston sent Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers

Boston, you’ll recall, acquired Cespedes last July at the deadline for, that’s right, Lester, putting a punctuation mark on the Porcello-as-Lester-consolation-prize angle.

So Porcello isn’t Lester. What is he? How about a sinkerballer with excellent control, who averaged just 1.8 walks per nine innings last year while posting a 3.43 ERA in 204.2 innings?

Here’s how Boston GM Ben Cherington summed the situation up, per’s Gordon Edes: “If we had known in July we weren’t going to sign Jon Lester, I think we would have been happy to trade for Rick Porcello.”

Then there’s Miley, the other trade acquisition. Or, make that pending trade acquisition. Here’s more from Edes:

The Sox also have a deal in place in which they will acquire Miley from the Diamondbacks for pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. Arizona GM Dave Stewart, who on Wednesday denied even discussing such a deal, told the Arizona Republic on Thursday that the clubs were still haggling over a minor leaguer who also will go to Arizona as part of the deal.

Let’s assume the trade goes through. What does the left-hander bring from the desert to Beantown? A shaky recent track record, for one, and some less-than-encouraging statistical trends.

Miley is a command guy. That’s his game, so it’s more than a little troubling to note that his walks per nine innings rose from 1.7 in 2012, his All-Star rookie campaign, to 3.4 last year.

He did set a career high in strikeouts with 183 and eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the second straight season. Plus, he just turned 28.

Last, and possibly least, is Masterson. The 29-year-old right-hander was an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians in 2013, but the bottom fell out in 2014.

Masterson was bad with the Indians, posting a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts. Then, after a deadline trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, he was abysmal, coughing up 24 runs on 35 hits in 30.2 forgettable frames.

And so he took what he could get on this crowded pitching market: a one-year, $9.5 million show-me deal from the Red Sox, confirmed Thursday by Rob Bradford of

In a way, it’s a good match: a pitcher trying to rehabilitate his value and a team one year removed from a World Series parade trying to rebound from a last-place, 91-loss season.

Again, though, is it enough? Can the Porcello/Miley/Masterson troika carry Boston past respectability and back to the top of the AL East?

Cherington doesn’t seem so sure; he told Edes that he engaged with James Shields’ agent at the winter meetings and is “waiting to see how the market develops for free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer.”

Plus, Edes speculates, Boston could be in on a range of potential trade targets, including the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Cole Hamels, and Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister of the Washington Nationals.

Whatever route they go, it’s clear the Red Sox can’t cross “starting rotation” off their winter shopping list just yet. 


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference

Read more MLB news on