Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox: Could Clay Buchholz Return?
Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox: Could Clay Buchholz Return?

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 10:19 p.m. ET

The Boston Red Sox just traded Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies. So naturally it’s time to speculate whether they could re-acquire him.

It’s not all that uncommon for a traded player to make his way back to his former team. Could Clay Buchholz be in for such a fate? The Boston Red Sox traded the 32-year-old right-hander to the Philadelphia Phillies a couple weeks ago in exchange for minor league second baseman Josh Tobias.

However, ESPN’s Buster Olney wonders if a reunion could actually happen, perhaps even before Opening Day. Mark Townsend of Yahoo Sports recounts Olney’s recent subscription-only column, in which he says it seems “inevitable” that Boston will need to add another starting pitcher by the end of the offseason. That’s quite a reversal from a few weeks ago, when it appeared that the Red Sox had starters to spare after acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox.

But things have changed a bit in the meantime. Eduardo Rodriguez injured his right knee during a start in Venezuelan winter ball, and though the team says he’s fine, it’s something to keep an eye on as we near Spring Training. Sale, David Price and reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello are a formidable top three, but the last two spots in the rotation are less clear.


Drew Pomeranz didn’t exactly impress after his midseason trade from the Padres, and he has injury concerns of his own. Knuckleballer Steven Wright had a great first half in 2016, but an ailing shoulder limited him to just seven starts after the break.

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    With their potent offense and sturdy front-end of the rotation, the BoSox can probably afford to play it somewhat loose with their number four and five arms. However, when you break it down, there is a significant possibility of things turning sour with several of their starting pitching candidates. Having another dependable, if not remarkable, hurler around could help.

    But is Buchholz really that guy? Consistency certainly hasn’t been his calling card over the years. He posted a 4.78 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 1.69 K/BB over 139.1 innings last season out of both the rotation and bullpen. It made sense for Boston to move on from him with one year and $13.5 million remaining on his contract, and it made sense for the Phillies to trade for him to be another veteran along with Jeremy Hellickson on a young staff in a rebuilding year.

    Part of the Phils’ logic in obtaining Buchholz may indeed have been their ability to trade him later. However, that plan would work a lot better at next season’s trade deadline, at which point the Phillies hope Buchholz will have had a solid rebound performance in the National League. They could then perhaps flip him for a slightly better package than what they gave up in the first place.

    The Red Sox will likely wait until spring to get a closer look at things and then decide if they need to bring in another starting pitcher. And even if the answer is yes, their old friend Clay Buchholz probably won’t be at the top of their list of targets. After all, whether now or during the season, the Phillies aren’t going to trade him back to Boston for less than what they gave up. Strange things happen in baseball, but either side runs the risk of looking silly in such a deal.


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