A seemingly taxed bullpen and what’s been a thin starting rotation for a while now are problems forcing the Red Sox into considering outside options for their pitching staff. With Alex Cora confirming that Nathan Eovaldi will assume the closer role upon returning from the Injured List, a spot will remain open in the rotation. Red Sox trade targets have generally been bullpen arms the last few years, but that tune might be changing in 2019.
With a largely competitive field of teams still vying for wild card contention, the market is a bit thinner than it has been in recent seasons. That being said, there are indeed arms that are reportedly being shopped, as sellers like the Mets, Blue Jays, and others will be looking to unload and rebuild.
If the plan for the Sox is to add a man in the rotation, there are some options on the market that might come a bit cheaper than relievers with multiple years before free agency. Let’s take a look at who some of these Red Sox trade targets might be.
RHP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets
Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Red Sox were spotted scouting a recent start of Wheeler’s (and Matthew Boyd’s). With the Mets coming undone in another lost season, a move would make sense. While the ERA is an unimpressive 4.69, Wheeler has been able to eat up innings in New York. He has managed to work 6.0+ IP in 15 of his 19 starts, including 7.0+ IP in 9 of those starts. He has worked fewer than five innings just a pair of times, going 4.2 in each. For a Red Sox team starved for an innings eater, a low-cost soon-to-be free agent represents an excellent fit.
LHP Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers
Boyd has put together a career year, posting a very solid 3.87 ERA through 18 starts. He’s been the best pitcher on a poor Tigers team, but has done well in a division that features a number of solid teams like the juggernaut Twins, competitive Indians, and rising White Sox. There are two concerns, however: for one thing, he is still a few years away from free agency. With how much clubs value team control these days, Boyd will come at a high price. Not just that, but after being one of the AL’s best through mid-June, Boyd has regressed a bit. The southpaw has allowed 4 or 5 ER in each of his last 4 starts, after allowing more than 4 ER just twice through his first 14. Boyd would make another quality addition, but the fit might not be as strong.
RHP Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
Red Sox fans might not jump all over this idea. But Stroman is having an excellent season, has always proven a tough out, and brings a swagger to the mound, which makes him a Red Sox trade target. A swagger that might energize the group. Stroman is one of the league’s best at producing high ground ball rates. In two starts against Boston this season, Stroman has allowed just 1 ER over 11 IP. His 3.18 ERA would automatically be the lowest among fellow Sox starting pitchers. What makes this deal difficult is that Toronto won’t trade a key player to a divisional rival for nothing. Like with Boyd, the Red Sox might be priced out of their comfort zone.