Brian O’Halloran said recently that the Red Sox won’t be sellers at the deadline, and they’ll actually look to add pitching. Is that the best idea, or even the truth? Who’s to say? Let’s assume he’s telling the truth, we can draw from the past to set some parameters for potential targets. Based on previous trades, they’ll likely look for someone with team control beyond this year (Nick Pivetta, Reese McGuire, Hansel Robles, etc). It also probably won’t be someone at the upper end of the market, the only really established player Bloom has traded for was Kyle Schwarber. And lastly, it won’t be someone that takes them over the luxury tax threshold after the debacle at the 2022 deadline. That leaves them about $10 million to play with for new additions. So, for the sake of conversation, here are a few names they might look at in the coming weeks.
Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals
To put it simply, Brady Singer has been bad. All you need to know about his performance this year is that his ERA is right on par with Corey Kluber’s. So why would the Red Sox want to add him to the mix? He fits the bill of who the Red Sox have traded for under Chaim Bloom. He’s only 26 years old and has three years of control remaining and he’s shown flashes in the past. Excluding this season, he has a career ERA+ of 109 and a K/9 of just under nine. He also has a 94th percentile extension, which is something the Red Sox have valued under Bloom.
It’s also worth noting that Singer uses almost exclusively a sinker/slider combo but also has a changeup he mixes in sparingly. If Singer were to increase his changeup use at the expense of his slider, he starts to look familiar. A 6’5” right-handed starting pitcher with great extension and a sinker, slider, and changeup in his repertoire? Sounds a lot like Garrett Whitlock. I’m not saying they’re the same guy, I’m just saying you can see the resemblance. The Royals probably won’t be shopping Singer, but they’d likely be willing to pick up the phone and have the conversation if Bloom comes calling.
Steven Matz, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have been the biggest disappointment of 2023. They’re 15 under 500 and 8.5 back of a playoff spot. If they can’t put it together soon, they’ll be surprise sellers at the deadline. Of their starting pitchers, Steven Matz is a name that jumps out as a potential addition. He has two years of control after this one and counts $11 million against the luxury tax. He’s been a big disappointment with St. Louis - a 5.38 ERA in just over 100 innings - but he’s another pitcher who’s shown promise in the past. Since joining the Cardinals, he’s all but ditched his slider and his curveball has lost some vertical movement. A change of game plan could be what Matz needs to get back to a solid rotation piece.
Jack Flaherty, St. Lous Cardinals
Flaherty doesn’t fit all the criteria in that he’s only under contract for this season, but he’s definitely an interesting name on the market. At his best, he’s one of the best starters in the league. The issue is, we haven’t seen his best in several years. Given the way the Cardinals have been playing, they’ll want to get whatever they can for their impending free agents, and Flaherty could be someone Bloom takes a flyer on for the rest of this season.
Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins
The Marlins are another surprise team, in the other direction. They’re 10 games over 500, winners of four in a row, and currently hold the first NL wildcard. That’s in large part thanks to their pitching. They’re 12th in the league in rotation ERA and have done it without Trevor Rogers. He struggled last year and early this year before going to the IL with a bicep injury but was excellent in his rookie year. He uses a four-seam fastball, has an excellent changeup, an okay slider, and even added a sinker this year to steal some strikes. Elevated fastballs and off-speed pitches down in the zone are essentially how James Paxton gets it done, why not add another lefty with a similar game plan? Rogers’ fastball isn’t quite as overpowering, but if you squint you can see Paxton-lite. Rogers is still only 25, has three years of team control, and would be a piece that could be seen as both buying and selling, as Bloom likes to do. Rogers is probably a long shot, but you can never have too much left-handed pitching.
Literally Anyone Else from the Marlins*
It feels like about once a week, the Marlins have a pitcher making their MLB debut with electrifying stuff. They’re all 22 years old, throw triple digits, and are the next big thing. If they wanted to sell some excess pitching, the Red Sox would be insane to not at least have the dialogue. Sixto Sanchez could be an interesting buy-low candidate, as long as nobody introduces him to North End Italian food.
*Not Matt Barnes