Four pitchers the Red Sox can acquire to fill in for Chris Sale

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Manager Alex Cora #20 removes starting pitcher Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox from the game during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 21, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Manager Alex Cora #20 removes starting pitcher Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox from the game during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 21, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 5
Next
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 16: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game at PNC Park on September 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 16: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game at PNC Park on September 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

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.