The Boston Red Sox have reportedly identified an area of need and are mobilizing.
Much has been made about Boston’s bullpen issues this season, but the defending World Series champions are prioritizing starting pitching help ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Monday. According to Rosenthal, the Red Sox are casting a “wide net” and would “prefer to act sooner rather than later.”
The Red Sox have a very clear hole in the back end of the starting rotation. The injured Nathan Eovaldi seemingly would fill that need upon returning from an elbow injury, but the flame-throwing right-hander will instead assume closer responsibilities when healthy.
Rosenthal didn’t specify any pitchers the Red Sox could target. Perhaps the biggest name who could be moved before the trade deadline is San Francisco Giants lefty and playoff hero Madison Bumgarner. The big southpaw is signed through the 2019 season, and the rental already has generated some interest from the Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, according to Rosenthal. The Red Sox are one of the eight teams on Bumgarner’s no-trade list, but as Rosenthal notes, that’s largely a tactic for leverage for the pitcher.
The Red Sox also could look to the New York Mets in any quest to add a starter. New York has all but fallen out of the race, despite having plenty of name value within the starting rotation. The one pitcher who has come up the most in trade rumors is right-hander Zack Wheeler. Once considered a can’t-miss prospect, arm injuries have slowed Wheeler’s career and kept him from taking the next step toward stardom. He had strung together three solid starts in recent weeks but was hit hard Sunday by the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing six runs on eight hits in just five innings.
The Red Sox didn’t face left-hander Matthew Boyd this weekend in their three-game sweep of Detroit, but Rosenthal reported last week Boston had scouts at one of the 28-year-old’s recent starts. Boyd’s numbers are decent — he has a 3.87 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 107 innings — but he too has struggled recently, allowing at least four earned runs in each of his last four starts with a 6.03 ERA since the start of June.
Boston also might be keeping tabs on Texas Rangers starter Mike Minor, who opposed Boyd and the Tigers in the game noted by Rosenthal. Minor, an All-Star selection, has been fantastic for Texas this season, going 8-4 with a 2.54 ERA, striking out just under one batter per inning. Minor is affordable, too, signed through next season at $9.8 million per year.