Four pitchers the Red Sox can acquire to fill in for Chris Sale
Red Sox Target: RHP Tyler Mahle
One of the four teams to vote against the $220 million luxury tax threshold, the Cincinnati Reds have entered this de facto second offseason with a clear motive to tear their team down. They began by flipping starter Sonny Gray to the Twins for top prospect Chase Petty, then traded All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker and power-hitting third baseman, Eugenio Suarez, to the Mariners for a collection of prospects. The yard sale continued into Wednesday as the team swapped closer Amir Garett for journeyman Mike Minor.
It’s clear that besides legend Joey Votto, nobody is off-limits in trade talks. That would include the team’s top two remaining starters, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo. While Castillo, a former All-Star who has some of the best stuff of any starter in the game, maybe outside Boston’s price range, Mahle has both the swing-and-miss stuff and contract controllability to be a perfect fit in the Red Sox rotation.
For his first couple of years in the majors, Mahle has always had the underlying numbers to be a frontline starter but wasn’t able to put it all together. His strikeout and walk ratios were near or above-average, but his ERA over his full two years was an unsightly 5.06.
Yet he has made real adjustments over the last two years, cutting his ERA to 3.72, increasing his K rate from 8.9 to 10.7, and dropping his home rate from 1.74 in 2019 to 1.20 in 2021.
Mahle also comes with an affordable contract, as he is arbitration-eligible for the next two years and is expected to make just $5.6 million in 2022. Mahle may cost some prospect capital, but because he lacks the pedigree of his teammate Castillo, the price will be far cheaper.
With the durability to make a league-leading 33 starts in 2021 and elite strikeout numbers, Mahle has both the high floor and high ceiling to be a frontline starter, something the Red Sox desperately needed.