Even after acquiring future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer in a blockbuster deal with the Mets last night, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand indicates the Rangers are not done adding to their pitching staff. Texas is reportedly looking to add a reliever or two or their relief corps and are also interested in adding to the bottom of the rotation.
An additional starting option would certainly make sense for Texas. While Nathan Eovaldi (2.69 ERA in 19 starts) and Scherzer create a strong top 2 at the front of the rotation, southpaws Martin Perez and Andrew Heaney have combined for a concerning 4.81 ERA in 40 starts this season. Righties Dane Dunning and Jon Gray both have stronger numbers for the season, Gray has posted a 6.49 ERA in his past seven starts while Dunning’s best work this season has come as a member of the bullpen.
While Feinsand doesn’t connect specific names to the Rangers, Justin McWilliams of the Boston Globe notes that the club has been scouting Red Sox left-hander James Paxton. Paxton, 34, came into the season with a 6.65 ERA in 21 2/3 innings of work since the start of the 2020 season. He dealt with back and forearm issues towards the end of his tenure with the Yankees before requiring Tommy John surgery in 2021. Separate injuries, including a late-season hamstring strain, slowed his rehab process and prevented him from returning to the mound with Boston in 2022.
Since making a healthy return to the mound in the middle of May this season, however, Paxton has looked like a quality, playoff-caliber starter. In 70 innings of work across 13 starts this season, Paxton has posted a 3.34 ERA that’s 40% better than league average by measure of ERA+ with a 3.61 FIP. His 28.4% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate are both a touch better than his career norms and while his .269 BABIP is noticeably lower than his career .302 figure, Paxton would be a significant upgrade to Texas’s rotation, or that of virtually any contender.
Of course, it’s an open question as to whether or not the Red Sox would actually move Paxton ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. After all, Boston sports a solid 56-48 record. While that puts them in fourth place in the AL East and seven games back of the division lead, they’re just 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot even with the likes of Trevor Story, Chris Sale, and Tanner Houck on the injured list.
While the Red Sox have already made one “sell-side” trade so far this July, last week’s deal that sent utilityman Enrique Hernandez to the Dodgers doesn’t seem particularly indicative of the club’s future plans. After all, the trade came in the midst of a brutal season on Hernandez’s part and at a time when the Red Sox are flush deep with middle infield options: Yu Chang, Christian Arroyo, and Pablo Reyes are all on the roster with Justin Turner also chipping in at second base and Story nearing a return to action.
Should Paxton wind up unavailable, there’s still plenty of other options for the Rangers to consider in looking to upgrade their pitching staff. Michael Lorenzen, Mike Clevinger, and Jack Flaherty are among the starters who seem likely to move, to say nothing of the possibility that the Padres or Cubs opt to sell and dangle an arm like Blake Snell or Marcus Stroman. As for relief options, right-handers Jordan Hicks, Scott Barlow, Chris Stratton, and Paul Sewald all appear in the top 15 of MLBTR’s most recent Top 50 Trade Candidates list. So too does relief ace Josh Hader, though his availability is contingent on San Diego opting to sell just as Snell’s is.