Red Sox: Free agent Zack Wheeler should be on Boston’s radar

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on September 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on September 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox need to add to their starting rotation while not breaking the bank. Adding Zack Wheeler to the roster could allow them to do both.

We all know that the Red Sox need to trim some fat from the payroll and get the budget back into the black. That seems easy enough, except that Boston also needs to fix some glaring holes in the lineup. So how exactly do you go about getting new things without breaking the bank? Discount shopping!

That’s right, friends! With Black Friday right around the corner, the Red Sox are going to need to do some of the best bargain hunting we’ve ever seen. This free agency window saw Boston lose Rick Porcello from the starting rotation and repacing him needs to be a top priority. Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom, is known for not only cultivating talent but for maximizing a shoestring budget.

With Boston’s current needs he’s the right man for the job, and this offseason should be exciting under his watch. Again, finding an arm to replace Porcello should be on the top of Bloom’s list and the market isn’t necessarily rich with inexpensive pitchers. This winter will see the focus placed on guys like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg as the league begins a bidding war for the talented starters.

There is however a solution that could not only fill the void left by Pretty Ricky’s departure but also keep the budget CBT friendly. Zack Wheeler is officially on the market and the former Mets pitcher is the perfect puzzle piece the Red Sox need. Not only is he a righty, which the rotation is desperately in need of, but he also comes with a friendly price tag.

In 2019, Wheeler made just under $6M which is perfect for what Boston is trying to do ahead of the 2020 season. The right-hander finished last season with an 11-8 record through 195.1 IP and a 3.96 ERA. In comparison, Porcello saw a 14-12 record through 174.1 IP and a 5.52 ERA for a whopping $21.125M. The New York righty also outperformed the Boston starter in WHIP (1.259/1.394) and SO/9 (9.0/7.4).

Not only did the righty have the better season but he would also be able to get the job done for far less and what Porcello was on the books for. Even if Wheeler gets a pay increase in his next deal I can’t see it being too much more than what he earned in 2019. Some may believe that having a 3.96 ERA isn’t good for a starter but considering what the Red Sox dealt with last year, I’ll gladly take it.

There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead for the Boston rotation and gaining someone that can give them close to two-hundred innings would be great. Eduardo Rodriguez was the only Red Sox pitcher to hit the 200 IP mark for 2019 with everyone else trailing well behind the southpaw. Wheeler has finished three of his five career seasons over the 180 IP mark, with this past year being the best.

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If Chris Sale and David Price once again run into injury setbacks then Alex Cora would still be able to rely on E-Rod and Wheeler. Another benefit he offers to Cora is giving the skipper another righty for the rotation that is heavy with lefties. With Porcello on the free-agent market that leaves just Nathan Eovaldi as the sole right-handed starting pitcher.

Chaim Bloom was hired by the Red Sox to do two things: repair the farm system, and salvage the budget while building a contender. The farm system will take some time as that’s not an overnight solution, but he can build the contender for cheap this winter. He’ll have to move some pieces to free up the cash to not only approach the CBT but also add some more firepower.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been a popular name on the trade market and so has Eovaldi. Moving both would be a massive plus to the salary and could allow Boston to spend a bit on some free agents to improve the roster for 2020. In regards to Wheeler, I can see a club-friendly 3-year/$21M offer that would give him a raise and some stability for the next few years.

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Zack Wheeler can offer the Red Sox solutions to multiple questions that they have going into this offseason. Not only can he perform every fifth day when he’s called upon but he can do so while not killing the budget. I have all the faith that Bloom will find the right pieces at the right cost, and this should be one of the bullet points in his plan for 2020.