While the Boston Red Sox are certainly holding their own in a packed AL East Division, we saw firsthand this past week that there are still some upgrades this team could look to make down the stretch of the season. Over the past six games, the Sox pitching staff has given up at least seven runs in five of those games, including yesterday’s 18 run demolition at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s clear that most of the Sox pitching staff has overachieved this season; could this be when they come back down to earth?
The MLB trade deadline is still more than a month away, but with relaxed salary cap rules, trades happen in the MLB more frequently than in any other other sports league in the world. As a result, it’s never too soon to begin looking at potential trade targets the Sox could look to make a move for in the coming weeks. Of course, the rotation could become more crowded if Chris Sale ends up making his return to the rotation this season, but adding another starting pitcher may not be an awful contingency plan. Boston has also struggled to find consistent production from their middle relievers, so adding someone there may be an option as well. Let’s take a look at five arms the Sox could look to add as they attempt to make a charge towards the postseason.
Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers
Michael Fulmer appeared to be well on his way to becoming one of the best pitchers in the majors after dominating the competition on his way to a Rookie of the Year award in 2016. Things didn’t go smoothly thereafter, as Fulmer regressed drastically. He missed all of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and then came back in 2020 to post an 8.78 ERA, which isn’t very good.
However, Fulmer has moved to the bullpen this season for the Tigers, and has had a much needed bounce back season up to this point. Fulmer has done a little bit of everything, as he’s pitched in 20 games, has four saves, but also has started four games as well. He has a 3.34 ERA, which is the lowest it’s been since his dominant rookie season. At just 28 years old, Fulmer still offers the upside to become a dominant arm whenever he is called upon, while filling an immediate need for Boston in the bullpen as a middle innings guy. There most likely won’t be much of a price tag for Fulmer, and this would qualify as the type of low risk/high reward move that Chaim Bloom has become renowned for.
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
After a seven year hiatus from the majors, Daniel Bard made a triumphant return last year with the Colorado Rockies, and looks to have returned to his dominant form that made him one of the most feared setup men during his heyday with the Red Sox. An ill-fated move to the starting rotation nearly ended up putting an end to Bard’s career in 2012, but he has made it all the way back to where he started, and could find himself on the move with the Rockies again finding themselves towards the bottom of the NL West.
The Rockies have continued to give Bard more and more responsibility in high-leverage roles, as he has eight saves on the season on the off chance Colorado actually has a lead. If Bard were to return where his career started, he wouldn’t end up with many save chances, but could find himself with an important role in the middle to late innings, similar to his role during the beginning of his tenure with the Sox. Due to Bard’s lengthy history of struggles, and the Rockies staring down a rebuild, the Sox probably wouldn’t have to dish out a huge price for Bard, making a reunion a legitimate prospect the further the season goes.
Kendall Graveman, Seattle Mariners
Another starter turned reliever, Kendall Graveman could be the top relief option available that isn’t a closer for their team. Graveman missed most of the 2018 and 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and finally returned last season. Graveman didn’t look great last season, posting a 5.79 ERA over the season, but has been lights out this season when he has been healthy. In 16 games this season, Graveman has allowed only two runs, and has developed himself into one of the top trade targets in the bullpen this season.
Graveman, like the previous two guys mentioned, has seen more high-leverage work as he continues to dominate opposing lineups, picking up five saves on the season. Graveman can be used pretty much anywhere, as he has the stamina to do long relief work if needed, while also having good enough stuff to be able to get his team out of high leverage situations. Graveman’s body of work this season will most likely fetch the Mariners a higher return than the previous two targets if they decide to move him, but it shouldn’t be something that dissuades Boston from moving for him.
German Marquez/Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
It is largely expected that the Colorado Rockies will have a firesale come the trade deadline, and these two starters could be on the move as a result. Both guys have been solid if unspectacular for the Rockies, and could be potential targets if Boston is looking to add a starter. Of the two, Marquez has been the better pitcher this season, as his numbers get dragged down by a start where lasted 0.2 innings and gave up 8 runs. Gray has been more consistent, but currently finds himself on the IL, which could present an issue if he stays there for awhile.
Both guys still are relatively young, with Marquez being 26 and Gray being 29, meaning that they may not just be rentals for the final stretch of the season. With the rotation currently going through a rough patch, and guys like Eduardo Rodriguez struggling to find any sort of consistency this season, moving for a starting pitcher may be the right move for Boston. Of the two, Marquez is the more desirable target, but he may charge a steeper price. If the price gets too high, the Sox could look to move for Gray to shore up the rotation for the rest of the season.
Kyle Gibson, Texas Rangers
Things have finally come together for Kyle Gibson this season, and it would be a big surprise if the Texas Rangers decided against shipping him out at the trade deadline. Gibson is 4-0 on the season for a Rangers team that has already lost 41 games, and has a sparkling 2.13 ERA on the season. Gibson is also under team control for next season as well, making him one of the most desirable pitching candidates as the season moves towards the trade deadline.
Acquiring Gibson would presumably give Boston’s starting rotation an ace that they haven’t had this season. Boston’s rotation has mainly comprised of a number of guys who have put together solid outings when their number is called, but they don’t have one guy that has stepped up as the leader of the rotation. Maybe that guy is Chris Sale, but if the Sox don’t want to put their faith in Sale coming back and dominanting, they could make a move for Gibson, and give Boston one of the best starters in baseball for the remainder of the season.