The Red Sox might consider trading starting pitcher Martin Perez.
The Boston Red Sox will be looking to add pitching to improve a staff that was among the worst in baseball this season but we can’t rule out the possibility that they could trade away one of their starters as part of the process of revamping their rotation.
Martin Perez is coming off a strong campaign in which he was arguably the most consistent starter on the staff. He owned a 4.50 ERA and 1.34 WHIP that represent his best marks in years while producing a 6.7 K/9 that is well above his career strikeout rate.
That’s hardly top of the rotation-type production but it should be enough to convince the Red Sox to pick up his modest $6.25 million team option for 2021. That’s a relative bargain for a veteran pitcher projected to slot in at the back of the rotation.
According to Masslive.com’s Christopher Smith, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom found a “lot of positives” with Perez. He praised the lefty for his consistency and for being a great teammate, perhaps hinting that he intends to pick up his team option. Even if the Red Sox do exercise the option for Perez, Smith speculates that they could do so with the intention of flipping him for other assets.
Bloom has made several trades in his first year in Boston, adding depth to a thin farm system. With his solid production this year and modest salary for next season, Perez could be dealt for a decent haul from a team in need of a rotation arm that doesn’t have the funds to spend in free agency.
With the Red Sox dipping below the luxury tax threshold to reset the penalties, Bloom should have more financial flexibility to improve the pitching staff. If he wants to go after Trevor Bauer, this year’s favorite for the NL Cy Young award and the top pitcher on the free-agent market, there’s room in the budget to make him an offer.
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If they miss out on Bauer, several middle of the rotation options can still be found in free agency who could be deemed an upgrade over Perez. Jake Odorizzi and Mike Minor both pitched poorly this year but they were All-Stars last season and they each have a career ERA under 4.00. Robbie Ray is another option who was awful this year but has shown star-caliber upside in the past and brings tantalizing strikeout potential. Garrett Richards and Taijuan Walker have some injury red flags in their recent past but they’ve pitched well when healthy.
As brutal as their rotation was this season, the Red Sox are in much better position heading into next year. Eduardo Rodriguez (myocarditis) should be ready for spring training and Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) will join the rotation at some point next season. Nathan Eovaldi pitched well this year and should be a solid third or fourth starter. Tanner Houck and Nick Pivetta both impressed in brief opportunities down the stretch to earn themselves the chance to compete for a rotation spot next season.
Boston will need depth considering the uncertainty of Sale’s timeline plus the limited track records of Houck and Pivetta. Perez is a solid No. 5 starter but unless someone makes a leap next year, they will need a steadier option to solidify the middle of the rotation. Otherwise, the Red Sox will be forced to navigate at least part of the season with E-Rod, Nate and a collection of pitchers viewed as fifth starters. That’s not significantly better than where they started this season.
If the Red Sox can find an upgrade or two in free agency then Perez suddenly becomes more expendable. Boston can improve their current rotation while flipping Perez for assets that help restock the farm system with players who could help down the line or be used in a package for other trades.
Perez endeared himself to Red Sox fans with a solid season and he seems to be a great fit on this team. There should be no qualms about his return if the Red Sox pick up his option with the intention of keeping him. Bloom should always be exploring ways to improve though. If he has the opportunity to acquire a better option for next year’s rotation, which could allow him to use Perez to add more future assets, expect Bloom to strike at the chance.