The Red Sox’s starter ERA ranks around the middle of the Major Leagues at 4.70. As we saw at MLB London, the starting staff has been up and down. Rick Porcello isn’t having a great year, Eduardo Rodriguez is inconsistent and Hector Velazquez has struggled at times.
Chris Sale is pitching near his best, though, and David Price has been more than solid. Like their rival Yankees, the high-flying Twins and several National League ball clubs, the Red Sox are hunting for a starter before July is up. It won’t be easy.
Madison Bumgarner immediately comes to mind. The 2014 World Series MVP is a free-agent-to-be and the Giants are going to trade him before the 31st July trade deadline. There’s plenty of interest in Bumgarner, however, with the Astros, Twins, Braves and Brewers all sniffing around the big left-hander according to Rosenthal.
Boston don’t have a great deal to offer and would almost certainly lose out in a potential bidding war for Bumgarner. Their weak farm system probably rules them out of any controllable starters too, such as the Tigers’ Matthew Boyd.
Marcus Stroman and Mike Minor both have one year left on their deals, but the asking prices will be high. The Blue Jays will be reluctant to deal with a division rival, while the Rangers are still in postseason contention and Minor is having a potential Cy Young campaign.
Realistically, the Red Sox are probably looking at a rental. Should the Cincinnati Reds look to sell – and that’s still up in the air – Tanner Roark would be a good option. The right-hander has pitched very well since being dealt by the Nationals in the offseason and would be a clear upgrade for the Red Sox.
Zack Wheeler will be a name that Red Sox fans will hope for. Wheeler’s stuff is special, though his 2019 has been pretty underwhelming after a strong end to 2018. The Mets are going to be sellers, and Wheeler has the upside to transform Boston’s rotation.
Andrew Cashner, who has a team option for 2020, is one guy the Red Sox might consider. He’s having a solid year, and there’s no doubt that the Baltimore Orioles are rebuilding. Baltimore, like Toronto, might not be keen on a trade within the division, but there’s unlikely to be a long queue of suitors for Cashner and the Orioles need all the prospects they can get.
The Red Sox aren’t going to be in the market for an ace. There are a few ways they can upgrade their rotation though, even if it’s not going to be a name that grabs headlines. Moving early, as Rosenthal reported, is definitely the best way to go if it allows them to make their move before other teams with deeper farm systems look to trade.