Now a full two months into the season, the 2016 Boston Red Sox are hindered by one thing: starting pitching depth.
David Price is the clear-cut ace of the rotation, and has improved greatly in his last few starts after a rough stretch to start the season. But behind him, there are quite a few question marks.
Steven Wright has arguably been the team's best pitcher overall this season, but knuckleball pitchers aren't exactly trustworthy in the postseason. Rick Porcello is starting to revert to his 2015 form after an excellent start to the season. Eduardo Rodriguez will need several more starts to shake off the rust, and both Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz have been flat-out terrible this season.
Fortunately, Dave Dombrowski is the perfect man to remedy the situation.
Whereas his predecessor, Ben Cherington, would likely botch this crisis, Dombrowski has a strong track record of being both aggressive and successful in acquiring starting pitching. Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and David Price are just three of the prime examples of quality starting pitching nabbed by Dombrowski to boost his club's World Series chances.
Soon, Sonny Gray will likely be added to that list.
Gray-to-Boston is just too perfect, if you really think about it. Billy Beane has proven that he will trade ANY player on his team for the right price, while Dombrowski has proven that he'll trade ANY prospect in his farm system for the right price.
At only 26 years old, Gray is arbitration eligible through the 2019 season. Though he's had somewhat of an off-year so far, there's no reason to think he won't snap back to his All-Star form soon. A change of scenery and additional incentive on a winning team like Boston could be the trigger for that change.
But what would it take to land Gray?
Beane has let elite talent go for below-market value before (i.e. Josh Donaldson), but even if he wants the Red Sox to overpay a bit, there's no reason to think a deal won't get done—Boston has plenty of young talent to spare.
Here's a proposal that should work out well for both teams:
Athletics receive: C/OF Blake Swihart, P Henry Owens, 3B Michael Chavis, P Pat Light
Red Sox receive: SP Sonny Gray, RP John Axford
It's possible that the A's could just demand a top prospect like Rafael Devers or Andrew Benintendi for Gray, but I think Beane would prefer to add more prospects (even at a slightly-lesser quality).
For Boston's sake, let's hope Beane really likes what he sees in Swihart. He's the perfect trade chip for the Red Sox. Behind him, Henry Owens (a California native) could team up with Sean Manaea as two southpaw stalwarts in the A's rotation.
Chavis is roadblocked at virtually any infield position, so losing him is no big deal for the Sox. Light could very well be the edge to this deal; a hard-throwing righty that Beane could use to replace Axford and bolster the bullpen.
In the end, this deal is bound to happen. It's just a matter of time before Gray dons a Red Sox uniform.