Red Sox

Eduardo Rodriguez quest for 20 wins might be only reason left to watch Red Sox

Eduardo Rodriguez quest for 20 wins might be only reason left to watch Red Sox

BOSTON -- The quest for 20 continues.

The Red Sox have nothing left to play for except pride and individual achievements, and they've crossed a few off the list recently with 50 doubles each for Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, 30 homers for Devers, and 130 runs for Mookie Betts.

The biggest item on the to-do list, however, might be getting left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to 20 wins, a plateau last reached by a Red Sox starter during Rick Porcello's Cy Young-winning 2016 season, when he went 22-4.

E-Rod improved to 18-6 on Thursday with six innings of one-run ball in a 5-4 win over the Giants, and the run was unearned. The victory didn't come without some palpitations, however, as the visitors loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth and the Red Sox leading 5-3.

Closer Brandon Workman escaped the mess largely of his own making by walking in one but eventually striking out the side to keep Rodriguez on track for what would be one of the more improbable 20-win seasons in team annals.

"He's had a hell of a season," Workman said. "He's thrown the ball really well. I think he's knocking on the door of 200 innings as well. So if he can be 20 wins, 200 innings, that's benchmarks in two different areas for starters. So that would be incredible."

It hasn't been a fluke, especially not recently. Rodriguez struggled early in the season to command his fastball up in the zone, but once he recognized the damage he could do above the letters at 95 mph, especially when paired with a vicious changeup below the knees, he took off.

He struck out 10 on Thursday and walked only two, lowering his ERA to 3.53, which is good for seventh in the American League. He has two starts remaining to win two games and throw the final 8.2 innings he needs to reach 200 for the first time.

"He's been outstanding," said manager Alex Cora. "What else can we say? It's been going on for a while. Now you see the strikeouts way up there and the walks staying low. He's put in a great season."

Rodriguez is slated to start Tuesday in Texas and then at home against Baltimore in the season finale a week from Sunday. If he wins the first start, he'll be given every opportunity to claim the second, which would come against the team that signed him as an amateur free agent in 2010 before trading him to the Red Sox for reliever Andrew Miller in 2010.

Rodriguez is also virtually guaranteed to surpass the 200-strikeout threshold for the first time, because he sits at 199.

"I mean, I have two more starts and just go out there and try to do the best I can and give us a chance to win those games," Rodriguez said. "Just go out there and perform and try to be good again. At the beginning of the season, I was really thinking, go 200 innings. That was all my goal this year, go 200 innings, 30-plus starts and I made the 30-plus already so now I'm looking for the 200 innings. 200 strikeouts, that's something you can't control. You go out there and execute the pitches and if they swing and miss, they strike out, so if it happens, it happens."

Rodriguez returned to that phrase when it comes to 20 wins, but Cora said the rest of the team is intent on helping him get there.

"Twenty wins is something the guys are pushing for me right now and if it happens, it happens," Rodriguez said. "You know how baseball is. You can have a game of one run or no runs and still get a no-decision. It all depends on how the games are going to go."

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MLB trade rumors: These 5 teams are 'in play' for Red Sox's David Price

MLB trade rumors: These 5 teams are 'in play' for Red Sox's David Price

The Boston Red Sox appear to have several potential suitors if they really want to trade starting pitcher David Price this offseason.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday an update on Price's situation, noting a few specific teams that have talked to the Red Sox about a potential trade for the veteran left-hander.

According to a source, the Red Sox have held trade talks with at least five clubs about David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner who helped lead Boston to the 2018 World Series title.

Among the teams in play for Price are the Padres, Cardinals, White Sox and Reds, while the Angels have also been in contact with the Red Sox, according to sources.

One team Feinsand doesn't mention is the Toronto Blue Jays. Sportsnet reported Wednesday night that the Blue Jays have "explored taking on David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr.," but that "the cost in both dollars and prospect capital remains too high."

Acquiring Price does not come without genuine risks for these interested teams.

He is 34 years and still has three more seasons left on his contract with an annual salary of $32 million, which, before Gerrit Cole agreed to sign with the New York Yankees, was the fifth-highest yearly base salary in baseball.

Price also wasn't very durable or effective in 2019. He posted a 7-5 record with a 4.28 ERA, 128 strikeouts and 32 walks over 107 1/3 innings. Price made 22 starts this past season, eight fewer than he did in 2018.

The Red Sox reportedly are "actively" trying to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who is entering his final year of arbitration.

Boston lost a starting pitcher Thursday morning when news broke that Rick Porcello had agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with the New York Mets. Losing both Price and Porcello in one offseason would be a real blow to a Red Sox rotation that battled injury and inconsistency throughout 2019.

Tomase: Price trade would put 2020 in jeopardy>>>

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MLB trade rumors: Blue Jays have 'explored taking on David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr.'

MLB trade rumors: Blue Jays have 'explored taking on David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr.'

The Boston Red Sox are a team to watch in the MLB trade market with a few high-priced veterans that could be moved to shed payroll.

Starting pitcher David Price, who makes $32 million annually and is signed through 2022, is an option. Another one is outfielder Jackie Bradley, who could make more than $10 million in 2020 before being eligible for unrestricted free agency entering the 2021 season.

Which teams would be willing to acquire one (or perhaps both) of these players? One potential destination is the Toronto Blue Jays, per Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi.

"On the trade front, they’ve explored taking on David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr., from the Boston Red Sox and J.A. Happ from the New York Yankees, but the cost in both dollars and prospect capital remains too high."

Multiple teams reportedly have shown interest in trading for Price, and one team that talked to the Red Sox about the veteran left-hander is the San Diego Padres.

Price does have a history with the Blue Jays, so it's not too surprising they would at least explore a reunion. He was traded from the Detroit Tigers to Toronto before the 2015 trade deadline. Price helped the Blue Jays reach the American League Championship Series that season, where they lost to the Kansas City Royals. He left the Jays that winter to sign with the Red Sox in free agency.

The Red Sox reportedly are "actively" trying to trade Bradley. The 29-year-old batted .225 with 21 home runs and 65 RBI in 2019. He's one of the best defensive players in all of baseball.

The Blue Jays need upgrades at several positions up-and-down their roster after three consecutive fourth-place finishes in the American League East. Toronto has not made the postseason since 2016 when it lost to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.

Five potential trade destinations for David Price>>>

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