Red Sox trade targets to look out for

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 aRed Sox trade targets 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.

Red Sox Save Their Season

In Boston’s three games over the weekend, they played their best baseball by sweeping the Rays. They showed life when they needed to, made big plays when opportunity knocked, and, most importantly, the three wins secured a Red Sox save to their season after a horrendous start.

The Sox’s biggest score over the weekend was an ample source of momentum. AfterRed Sox Save weeks compiled with struggles and reflection, the club finally gained a reason to play for 2019. They proved to themselves that they can play with baseball’s best (Tampa Bay had MLB’s best record entering Friday – now second best). They also proved they can win big games on the road.

Sox hit 5 home runs over weekend

Boston’s plethora of home runs, which helped move them out of the AL basement of ‘trouble slugging’ teams, came at the right time to help the Red Sox save their season. Starting on Friday, Christian Vázquez socked a pitch from Rays southpaw Ryan Yarborough over the center field wall. This hit came moments after Rafael Devers plated J.D. Martinez from first base on an RBI double. Then, in the eighth inning, with the game tied 4-4, Mookie Betts led off with a homer to center. As Betts rounded first and headed towards second, he pumped his right fist as a sign of elation. Mitch Moreland then went back-to-back. His blast sailed to right-center.

On Saturday, the Sox went up 1-0 when Sandy León was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Andrew Benintendi then hit a grand slam to left-center to put the Sox up 5-0. On Sunday, Moreland homered again to score Boston’s first run. It was his seventh long ball in 21 games played.

In a collaborative effort, Vázquez stands out

From Boston’s very first run on Friday against Tampa Bay, to a pickoff throw to Steve Pearce at first to win game 2. And ending with yesterday’s game-winning sac fly in the 11th inning, Christian Vázquez was the star of the series and played a major role in the Red Sox save to their season.

As mentioned above, the Sox’s first run on Friday came on a Devers RBI double. Martinez scored from first, which was impressive considering his size and lack of speed on the base paths. Martinez scored the run on a bang-bang play at home plate, in which if he slid a split-second late, he probably would have been thrown out. What stood out from the play, however, was that the catcher called the runner safe milliseconds before the ump. Talk about focus!

Arguably the best play of Vázquez’s career came while catching, with two runners on base (one in scoring position), and two outs in the bottom of the 9th. The Sox were clinging to a one-run lead. The catcher noticed Tommy Pham was taking a big lead off of first base, and thus pre-determined a pickoff throw before the second pitch of the impending at-bat arrived. His throw was perfect and Steve Pearce tagged out Pham to win the game. With much excitement, Vázquez hugged relief pitcher Ryan Brasier. He then looked towards his other teammates with a smile, thrilled to seal the victory.

In the series finale, in extra innings, Vázquez hit a sac fly to deep right-center to score the winning run. Number-seven rounded first and clapped three times above his head before heading towards the dugout. He clearly had the largest impact of any Red Sox against TB.

A rookie gets his first career hit

Michael Chavis, Boston’s top prospect, was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket before Friday’s game. He made his first career at-bat in game 2, in the top of the 9th inning, and with a runner on first. His clutch performance at this dish was a big boost to the Red Sox save to their season. Dave O’Brien, the team’s play-by-play commentator on NESN, said it best, “Chavis rips a double!” His double traveled more 400 feet, over Gold Glove Kevin Kiermaier’s head. The 23-year-old Chavis could not have produced a better first at-bat.

Starting pitching finally coming along

Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, and David Price gave the rest of their team a fair chance to win their starts over the weekend. The trio’s contributions helped quiet the doubters, for now, and were key to the Red Sox save to the season. E-Rod and Porcello each pitched more than five innings and allowed 3 earned runs or less. Price allowed just 2 runs, struck out 10, and did not allow a long ball. They all saw their pitch count rise above 90.

Red Sox Save Their Season – Ideas to consider moving forward

  • Do not take foot off the gas pedal — Chris Sale starts tonight and is still looking for his first win. Coming off a successful and emotional weekend, Sale should be ready to kick butt. The Tigers are last in the AL in runs scored. They are also last in home runs and OPS. This should only give Sale a better chance for a quality start.
  • Continue to play Chavis — After a pinch-hit double on Saturday, manager Alex Cora elected to start Chavis yesterday – a decision I agree with. He responded by reaching base just once in five plate appearances. Devers has been playing better recently (4-game hitting streak), but could be subject to sharing some time at third, which is Chavis’s natural position. There also still lies a huge hole at second base with Dustin Pedroia, Eduardo Nunez, and Brock Holt nursing injuries. Cora should be confident in playing Chavis regularly this week.
  • Do not panic over losing Eovaldi — The starter is meeting with his doctor today after an MRI showed two loose bodies in his pitching elbow. According to multiple sources, surgery is the most likely outcome. I know this seems hard, but the Red Sox still have a solid four-man rotation in Sale, Price, Porcello, and Rodriguez. Add in Héctor Velázquez (2 games started, 6 combined innings, 1 earned run) and the rotation looks even better. They do not have starters ready to go in the farm system. The team could opt to pitch similarly to the Rays – by rolling out relievers to begin games. The case is a strong one, as Tampa Bay leads the AL with a 2.85 team ERA.