The 2021 Major League Baseball starting pitching free agent class is robust.
The Boston Red Sox’s starting rotation doesn’t need to blown up by any means. They have some solid pieces to build around, but there are still questions on what the final product will look like when the 2022 season kicks off.
Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta likely are the three arms you could bet on being in the rotation. From there, the team could go in many ways — like using young hurlers Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in the rotation — or they could opt for a big splash.
After Monday’s news of Eduardo Rodriguez’s departure from Boston, there certainly could be acquisitions on the way and this is the perfect free agent class to pick from.
Here are five free agent starting pitchers Boston could target this offseason:
He is the obvious one, but also could have the biggest impact in Boston. The 37-year-old showed that he’s still got during the 2021 season. Scherzer finished the year with an overall record of 15-4 to go along with a 2.46 ERA across 30 starts split between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Although his age is getting up there, Scherzer didn’t show any rust or fatigue as the season went on after the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign and actually got better after getting traded to Los Angeles. He was 7-0 with a blistering 1.98 ERA in 11 regular season starts with the Dodgers.
Scherzer would be the most expensive option on the board if the Red Sox were to go in that direction. Spotrac currently has his market value calculated to be just over $35 million heading into next season. There surely will be many suitors for his talents, if Boston wants to reel in a big fish, maybe a three-year, $100 million deal could get the job done on the highest end. Especially with the loss of Rodriguez, maybe some of the money that would’ve gone to him can be sent the three-time Cy Young winner’s way.
Kershaw is another big fish that will have many suitors, but would be a good fit if Boston could get him away from the Dodgers. The Red Sox just lost a dependable left-handed pitcher in Rodriguez, and replacing him with arguably one of the best lefties in the league’s history would go a long way.
The longtime Dodger isn’t a spring chicken anymore — Kershaw will be 34-years-old by the time the 2022 season comes around — but is younger than Scherzer and potentially could be a cheaper option. Spotrac currently has his market value set at just under $32 million.
Obviously that’s a high price for a player, plus his injuries have been piling up in recent years. But he’s expected to be ready for spring training. If Boston could sign him to a multi-year deal with a price tag hopefully slightly lower than the market value and he’s able to look even somewhat like himself the squad would have a three-headed monster.
If the Red Sox want to build a rotation to win now, but also maintain a solid base well into the future Rodón may be a good guy to take a long look at. The 28-year-old is coming off of his first All-Star appearance as a member of the Chicago White Sox and seems to be rounding into form.
He doesn’t have many innings under his belt so his price tag shouldn’t be too far out of the question, but when he was on the mound in 2021 he was lights out. He finished the year 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA and struck out 185 batters in 132 2/3 innings pitched.
Rodón did tally just over 42 innings total across the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to recovery from Tommy John Surgery. The question marks are there, but if he stays healthy like he did for the most part this past season, he can be one of the best. Spotrac has his value set at $24 million and he could be paired nicely with Sale and Eovaldi. If injuries were to pop up, the team always does have Houck and Whitlock waiting.
The former San Francisco Giant may not be the sexy choice, but has been ultra consistent throughout his nine-year career and would immediately jump into the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Sale and Eovaldi.
The 30-year-old was 10-4 for the Giants in 2021 with a 3.83 ERA and boasts a career 3.50 ERA across nine seasons in the big leagues. Spotrac doesn’t have a value set for Wood yet, but after earning $3 million in a bounce back 2020 season, one reasonably could expect a pay bump but nothing too crazy for the left-hander. He could seamlessly fill in Rodriguez’s spot on most likely a more team-friendly deal.
Syndergaard arguably is the biggest question mark on this list. He missed the entire 2020 season and most of 2021 with various injuries but finally seems to be healthy. When his health has allowed he has big one of the best pitchers in the league with an electric fastball and solid mix of off speed pitches but his health really is the biggest question.
Spotrac has the 29-year-old’s value set at just under $30 million for this upcoming season. If healthy, that would be exactly what he’d be worth. He has a career 3.32 ERA in six seasons and a pairing with Sale and Eovaldi certainly would be a scary trio for opposing hitters.
These aren’t the only options the Red Sox could look at, but any of these five potentially could be worth taking a gander at ahead of next season.