The Pirates had a scout at Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz's last start, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.
Buchholz’s good run explains why teams are now sending scouts to watch his every start. On Wednesday night, one of those teams was the Pirates, who are looking for another starter. The Pirates don’t often spend big money, but Buchholz would fit into a lot of teams’ financial plans.
Buchholz is making $12 million this season, with club options for $13 million and $13.5 million the next two seasons, each of which come with small buyouts. He's been incredibly inconsistent throughout his career and looked like a mess as recently as early May, but he's pitched well since and now has a 3.68 ERA with very convincing peripherals and a strong 50.2 percent ground ball rate. Buchholz would be an obvious upgrade over Jeff Locke for the rest of the season and would give the Pirates an interesting rotation candidate in the next couple years, during which A.J. Burnett will likely be gone.
As Cafardo points out, Buchholz wouldn't bust the Pirates' budget. His contract is favorable enough, particularly given the option structure and the fact that the Red Sox likely still plan on competing in 2016 and 2017, that Boston could ask for a significant return. But maybe Buchholz's struggles to post two good seasons in a row (really -- look at his career stat line) will prevent other teams from paying heavily. Another Red Sock, first baseman Mike Napoli, would make at least some sense for the Pirates as well, as Joshua Choudhury pointed out yesterday.