Boston Red Sox Rumors: Sox Looking To Unload Clay Buchholz, Among Several Teams Interested In Chris Sale And Jose Quintana

Daniel Benjamin

The Boston Red Sox are looking like a team that can return to the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2014 World Series. But in order for the Red Sox to accomplish their goals, the Sox will need to improve their pitching staff.

Boston is the No. 1 offensive team in the majors. However, the Red Sox rank in the middle of the league in most pitching categories. The Sox rank 23rd in runs given up per game (4.7), 17th in ERA (4.30), 12th in quality starts (48), 14th in WHIP (1.32) and 13th in batting average against (.253).

Boston's starting rotation has been the Sox's biggest bugaboo. The Red Sox are set atop of their rotation with David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, though Price has not been his normal dominating self this season. The Sox have used six different pitchers in the team's fourth and fifth spots.

Price, who has a career ERA of 3.20, is 9-7 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 130 innings of work. The 30-year-old ranks third in the AL with 130 strikeouts, but he is also allowing opposing hitters to bat .262 off him.

Wright and Porcello have been pleasant surprises. Wright (12-2, 3.47 ERA and three complete games) is having a career campaign, while Porcello has bounced back from a bad 2015 campaign, posting a 12-2 record to go along with a 3.47 ERA. Price, Wright and Porcello have accounted for 33 of the 41 victories that the team's starters have earned.

Eduardo Rodriguez and recently acquired Drew Pomeranz are currently the Red Sox fourth and fifth starters. Rodriguez, 23, is 2-4 with a 6.70 ERA along with a 1.54 WHIP with a .293 batting average against. Pomeranz, who was acquired from San Diego, was hammered by the San Francisco Giants on July 20 in his Red Sox debut. The 27-year-old left-hander surrendered five runs on eight hits in three innings of work. He is 8-7 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP on the season.

Clay Buchholz has to be the biggest disappointment of the Sox pitchers. The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA in 19 games, including 13 starts – posting a 2-8 record with a 6.31 ERA. He made his first relief appearance on July 21 in a 13-2 win over Minnesota since making his last start July 2.

With the return of reliever Junichi Tazawa from the disabled list on Friday and Joe Kelly also about set to return, Rob Bradford of WEEI reported that Buchholz's days with the Red Sox may be numbered.

Bradford added that teams have called the Red Sox about Buchholz's availability.

Speaking of the Sox bullpen, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald believes that the Red Sox need to find a reliever or two with closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Koji Uehara currently on the 15-day disabled list. Kimbrel had surgery on his knee and is expected to return mid-August, while Uehara (pectoral) could be out until the end of August.

One player that the Red Sox have checked in on, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, is Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson. The 30-year-old closer is 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA though he has converted 23-of-his-26 save opportunities.

Robertson has pitched well all season with the exception of two blowups. He permitted four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning on July 18 against the Seattle Mariners, and allowed six earned runs against the Kansas City Royals on May 28.

Heyman also wrote that the Sox would be one of the teams that would pursue Chicago starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, if the White Sox decided to sell them off.

Sale has been fabulous this season, ranking in the top 10 in the AL in several categories. The 27-year-old is 14-3 with three complete games and a 14-3 overall record. He also has a 3.18 ERA, .216 batting average against and 1.01 WHIP.

The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly would also likely be interested in Sale, so it is uncertain how likely Boston would be able to obtain him.

Quintana, 27, is also having a good season. The 27-year-old lefty is 8-8 on the season with 112 strikeouts and a 3.13 ERA. He ranks 7th in the AL in ERA and 8th in WHIP.

The Red Sox have already made four trades this year as the Red Sox have acquired utility man Michael Martinez from Cleveland and infielder Aaron Hill from Milwaukee, in addition to Ziegler and Pomeranz.

Boston (54-40) is currently a half game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the race for AL East after falling to Minnesota 2-1 on Friday night. The loss drops the Red Sox's record to 9-2 in their past 11 games.

[Photo by Elise Amendola/AP Images]