Boston Red Sox
2016 Committed Salary: $138.4 MM
The Red Sox rotation was a complete and utter disaster in 2015. Boston has stuck themselves with Rick Porcello for the next four seasons, and will pay him $82.5 MM to hopefully deliver an ERA below 4.50, something the right-hander has done only three times in a seven-year career. That contract for Porcello will serve as an elephant in the room for the Red Sox. Zimmermann’s open market value is likely in the five-year, $100-MM range, but if Boston is paying Porcello, a pitcher with an ERA a full run higher than Zimmermann’s over $20 MM per season, how can the Red Sox possibly negotiate a deal with Zimmermann that pays less annually? Porcello is not worth $20 MM per season, and Zimmermann is not worth $25 MM per season, but that’s kind of the position Boston’s front office has put itself in.
The Red Sox have some good options in Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens. Both pitched very well in their 2015 debuts, but neither is ready to be handed the keys to the rotation. Boston needs a veteran to lead its pitching staff it the team is to have any chance of contending in 2015. Price and Greinke are unrealistic, and the Red Sox cannot afford to invest heavily in another free agent with big question marks like Cueto. The front office tried that approach last year with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and got burned. Zimmermann is not the most spectacular pitcher on the market, but over the life of his contract, will be incredibly consistent. That’s something investible for the Red Sox.