John Tomase

Five starting pitchers for Red Sox to target at MLB trade deadline

Boston fans should be plenty familiar with one potential option.

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The lesson of the last two trade deadlines under Chaim Bloom, which Craig Breslow has seemingly embraced, is to pick a lane. Buying and selling simultaneously sounds good in theory, but in practice it almost never works. Send out a popular veteran, and the clubhouse feels abandoned. That's just how it goes.

Breslow has repeatedly said he will pick a side, and with the Red Sox playing like they belong in the postseason, the sensible path forward would be to add before July 31. Whether John Henry agrees of course remains to be seen.

The Red Sox have multiple needs, like a right-handed bat, a late-inning arm, and a defensive-minded second baseman But first on their list should be starting pitching, given the organization's concerning lack of depth, the innings highs half the rotation is preparing to blow through, and the general attrition that occurs in today's rotations.

The Red Sox already have seen injuries sideline four starters this season, and there are almost certainly more on the horizon. Even All-Star Tanner Houck is showing signs of wear, with his two worst starts coming in the last 10 days.

So where might the Red Sox turn for help? Here are five starting options who run the range from relatively cheap rentals to costlier long-term options.

1. Nathan Eovaldi, Texas Rangers

Why the hell not? The Rangers trail the Red Sox by seven games for the final wild card spot and are nearing the point of no return as they attempt to defend their World Series title. If they must sell, Eovaldi is a good place to start, because his playoff pedigree speaks for itself.

The two-time champion is 9-3 with a 3.05 ERA in the postseason, and Red Sox fans need no reminder of his heroics in 2018. He'd be an obvious fit here because we know he can pitch in Boston and blend seamlessly into the clubhouse, and he'd take some heat off Houck.

He'd potentially be a rental, too, because his 2025 option only vests for $20 million if he throws 69 more innings this season. Should the Rangers make him available, expect the bidding to be fierce among legitimate contenders.

2. Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays

Has any rebuild had less to show for it than Toronto's? The Jays developed what looked like their golden generation around Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and will likely end up with zero playoff wins to show for it. Not series wins, mind you, but even a single playoff game.

Anyway, Kikuchi was supposed to be one of the missing pieces, a durable lefty who made an All-Star team in Seattle before signing for three years and $36 million. He's in the final year of that deal and would be a straight rental who shouldn't break the bank in the middle of a 4-8, 4.12 ERA season.

3. Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays

One of the lowest points of Chaim Bloom's tenure was prioritizing Eflin in free agency last year and then losing the right-hander to the small-market Rays for three years and $40 million. Eflin promptly led the AL in wins (16) and is now trying to regain that form after missing three weeks in May with a back injury.

He's owed $18 million next year, which could price him out of Tampa and would be more than reasonable for Boston. If the idea is to add for now and later, Eflin would be a reasonable acquisition.

4. Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Angels

The lefty just made his second All-Star team in the midst of a bounce-back year. He ranks third among American League starters in WAR (4.1), per Baseball-Reference, though he's decidedly middle of the pack by the FanGraphs algorithm.

Either way, he'd diversify Boston's right-handed rotation, and he's under contract for next year, too, on a three-year, $39 million deal. He barely breaks 90 mph, but his excellent changeup and cutter would fit right in on Andrew Bailey's staff.

5. Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins

This would be a longer-term play, with the Red Sox gambling that Luzardo could make a Kyle Schwarber-like impact once he returns from the 60-day injured list (back) in August. Luzardo is only 26 and under team control through 2026, so if the Red Sox were looking to add an arm that could fit their young core, Luzardo would be it.

Not very many left-handed starters consistently reach the upper 90s, but Luzardo is one of them. He has also missed time this year with a sore elbow, so acquiring him would not be without risk, especially since he still figures to fetch a steep price.

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