Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox hung on the beat the Mariners (BOS 2, SEA 1) thanks in large part to David Price, who struck out seven in eight innings. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth.

Price had a slow start to the season but has come on of late. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been outstanding all season as well. The rest of the rotation? It hasn't been good. The team's starters other than Price and Wright have a 5.76 ERA combined in 214 innings. That's not good.

It's no surprise then that the Red Sox are said to be in the market for pitching. Not just any old pitching though. They want high-end pitching. Aces. Here's a blurb from Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald:

According to multiple baseball sources, the Sox have not shied away from asking about a few of the most elite names in the game -- Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, Gerrit Cole of the Pirates are two such prime talents -- even if the teams have no plans of moving that player. This is exactly what the Red Sox did in the offseason, when they spoke with the White Sox about Chris Sale, the Mets about Matt Harvey and the A's about Sonny Gray. The responses over the winter tended to be along the lines of "Let's start with the names of Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts," a conversational non-starter if there ever was one.

First things first: this passes the sniff test. Whenever I see a trade rumor, I ask myself whether it makes sense. So many of them are far out there. This one makes sense though. The Red Sox want high-end pitching and teams want Boston's best young players in return. I dub this rumor: believable.

Secondly, is it worth it for the Red Sox to break up their young core to improve their pitching, which is such an obvious weakness? The easy answer is no, but I think you can make an argument for both sides. In fact, let's do that right now.

The case for breaking up the young core to add pitching

Even after scoring only two runs Saturday, the Red Sox lead all of baseball with 390 runs scored. No one else is even close, really. The Cardinals are second with 360 runs. The Red Sox have some offense to spare, which in theory means they could move someone like Bogaerts or Betts of Jackie Bradley Jr. without taking too much of a hit.

Also, wow is the Red Sox's pitching bad! A 5.76 ERA in 214 innings from guys other than Price and Wright? And what happens if it turns out Wright is not the first knuckleballer in history who learned how to keep the ball in the park (league leading 0.4 HR/9)? Can the Red Sox continue to outscore their rotation the rest of the season, and even if they do, is the staff good enough to win multiple postseason series? That seems hard to believe.

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Should the Red Sox make Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts available for rotation help? USATSI
The case against breaking up the young core to add pitching

There is nothing more valuable in baseball than young elite players, and the BoSox undeniably have two of them in Bogaerts and Betts. Depending on your evaluation of Bradley, it could be three. That's a championship caliber core that should be kept together. Think Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and Andy Pettitte with the late-1990s Yankees, or Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner with the recent Giants teams. You build around these types of players, not break them up.

Keep in mind the Red Sox also have a very strong farm system, led by top prospects like second baseman Yoan Moncada and outfielder Andrew Benintendi. They also drafted lefty Jason Groome, the consensus top 2016 draft prospect, and should sign him too. Boston should be able to acquire rotation help without subtracting from their big league roster. They have the prospects to swing a blockbuster.


Either way, the Red Sox clearly need to do something about their rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez returned from his knee injury and didn't provide much help (6.97 ERA in four starts). Roenis Elias came up from the minors and got blasted in a spot start a few days ago (seven runs in four innings). They have to find a solution for the back of the rotation, and, at the very least, breaking up the young core should be under consideration. It doesn't hurt to listen to offers or toss around ideas, after all. Nothing should be ruled out.