If the Boston Red Sox are going to contend this season, they'll need some reinforcements in the starting rotation.
Red Sox starters have struggled mightily as of late, allowing 40 earned runs in 39 innings (9.23 ERA) over their last nine games. Eduardo Rodriguez (6.03 ERA) hasn't panned out as the team's de facto ace, and the rest of the rotation has regressed to the mean after a surprisingly strong start to the campaign.
Getting Chris Sale back in the mix later this season could bring a much-needed boost, but Boston can't rely on its injured ace to carry such a significant load in his return from Tommy John rehab. And while Tanner Houck's eventual return will add some depth, the Red Sox may need to peruse the trade market for a missing piece of the puzzle.
So, which names could we see linked to the Red Sox in trade rumors leading up to the July 31 MLB trade deadline? Here are five potential targets.
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Texas Rangers
After an abysmal 2020 season, Gibson has bounced back as one of the best pitchers in the American League this year. The Rangers right-hander is 4-0 with a sparkling 2.13 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 12 starts.
Texas is one of MLB's worst teams with a 25-40 record and a last-place spot in the AL West as of Sunday. Gibson is due for regression, but if he can keep up anything close to this pace he'll be a coveted arm leading up to the deadline.
Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Having already parted ways with superstar Nolan Arenado, and with stud shortstop Trevor Story likely to follow, the Rockies are expected to be one of the biggest sellers at the deadline.
Jon Gray is another name to monitor in Colorado. The 29-year-old righty is a free agent after this season and while his numbers are unspectacular (4-6, 4.29 ERA in 12 starts), he'll still be a solid addition for a contender in need of some help at the back end of the rotation.
Matthew Boyd, LHP, Detroit Tigers
Boyd is in the midst of a bounceback campaign after a 2020 season in which he posted a 6.71 ERA. So far this year, Boyd is 3-6 with a 3.56 ERA for the rebuilding Tigers.
It wouldn't be the first time Boston has been linked to Boyd. Two years ago, the Red Sox sent scouts to watch the southpaw ahead of the trade deadline. Perhaps this time around they'll pull the trigger on a deal for the 30-year-old veteran.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Bundy's trade stock has plummeted as of late with his ERA skyrocketing to 6.16 in 11 starts. If he can turn things around and look more like his 2020 self ahead of the deadline, he might catch the Red Sox' attention. Last season, Bundy was 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
The Angels need all the help they can get in their rotation, so trading Bundy might not be an ideal move if they're still in contention for a playoff spot next month. If they spiral in the standings, Bundy will be a name to keep tabs on in trade rumors.
Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals
We saved the best -- and the least likely -- for last.
Scherzer probably won't be traded. The Nationals likely will want the three-time Cy Young award winner to retire in a Washington uniform. That said, the soon-to-be 37-year-old is a free agent after this season and stuck on a last-place team in the National League East.
If the Nats can't turn things around before the deadline, Scherzer will be considered the top arm on the trade market. It'll be tough for the Red Sox to not at least inquire about the longtime ace's availability.