Dave Dombrowski is clearly looking to upgrade the Red Sox starting rotation, but where will they search?

It’s been reported that the Red Sox are interested in upgrading their starting rotation. While it may not seem like their biggest need on the surface, it has become increasingly important with the shifting of Nathan Eovaldi to the bullpen.

Let’s take a look at a couple of potential targets.

Marcus Stroman

The Blue Jays’ ace garners different reactions among Red Sox fans, as it appears you either love his on-field persona or loathe it. Regardless of the extracurricular’s, Stroman can pitch. He’s posted a career best 3.18 ERA and earned his first trip to the All Star game.

He’s expressed desire to remain in Toronto, but clearly has no fear of pitching in a bigger market. The New York Yankees have expressed interest in Stroman, but the Red Sox would be wise to inquire. While trading within the division can often be difficult, the Blue Jays made deals with both the Red Sox and Yankees last season as they sent Steve Pearce and J.A. Happ to their respective clubs.

Unlike many Trade Deadline acquisitions, Stroman isn’t a rental and is under contract for an additional season. The Toronto Blue Jays are a team with a plethora of young talent and it’s not clear whether or not they’d be willing to move their budding ace. All of these items being considered, he won’t be the cheapest option available, but would certainly slide into the Red Sox back end of the rotation and would impress in Boston.

Zack Wheeler

As many news sources have recently reported, the Boston Red Sox have already inquired on the services of Zack Wheeler. He’s in the middle of an up-and-down season that has reached the midseason’s break with a 4.69 ERA. It’s difficult to evaluate Wheeler largely due to the middling talent that exists around him, and certainly may find consistency on a team with better overall talent.

The New York Mets are a team that is looking to sell its expiring assets, and Wheeler certainly falls within that category. As a rental option, it doesn’t seem like he would command a prospect that falls within MLB’s Top 100 – excluding Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, and Triston Casas; however he may very well command a prospect that is within the top 10 of the Red Sox system. Additionally, to further capitalize on maximum value he may be a part of a larger trade that includes a reliever as well.

Despite poor numbers, Wheeler figures to be one of the hottest names on the trade block and it would be surprising if Dave Dombrowski didn’t call the Mets and put together a package for the young starter.

Madison Bumgarner

All Red Sox fans will remember Bumgarner for his heroic effort in 2014 as the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. He’s been a steady workhorse for the club, but has seen a small decline in his numbers over the past few seasons. The Giants’ ace is in the middle of his worst season in his career, posting a 4.03 ERA.

He’s an interesting case as he’s one of the best available options and has the majority of title contenders, including the Boston Red Sox, on his “No Trade” clause. It would take a lot for the ace to make his way to Boston considering the price tag that will likely be attached to the premium option on the trade market. While he’s a rental option, it certainly doesn’t mean that he will be inexpensive. As many know, the Red Sox farm system doesn’t stack up with the likes of the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, or Philadelphia Phillies as they all seek to bolster their current rosters.

It would be a tremendous upgrade for the Sox rotation to add Madison Bumgarner, but it shouldn’t be considered as a likely outcome

Mike Leake

After a hot start to the season for the Seattle Mariners, it all has come crashing down rather quickly. Led by an ultra aggressive GM in Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners have already sent Edwin Encarnacion to the Yankees and may seek to do the same with one of their most valuable trade pieces.

Leake has been the epitome of a back end starter throughout his career and has posted a 4.32 ERA this season with Seattle. Financially, he’s under contract until 2022 and may be more available due to his 5 year / $80 million deal that he was inked to. While the Red Sox would need Seattle to take care of much of the financial restrictions, they may be able to steal Leake for a rather cheap asking price.

There are certainly more attractive options on the market, but it doesn’t hurt to see what the asking price would be on the veteran starter.

Trevor Bauer

In a bit of a surprise, the Cleveland Indians announced that they’d be willing to listen to offers for their rising ace. There’s very little denying the ace potential that Bauer possesses as he’s broke out over the past two seasons. After a 2.21 ERA last season, he’s posted a 3.61 this season and may very well continue a strong second half with another club.

The strong personality is under contract for another season, which won’t do an inquiring team any favors. The Indians are by no means a seller and would be looking to garner maximum value for any player that might be on the move. If the Red Sox deemed themselves interested in Trevor Bauer, the return could be drastic. There would be multiple top tiered prospects, and maybe a Major League player such as Eduardo Rodriguez, that would be included in such a deal.

Trevor Bauer fits everything the Red Sox need in a starting pitcher, but the potential return in a deal doesn’t line up. There’s a chance that Bauer may be dealt at the deadline, but unless Dave Dombrowski pushes all of the metaphorical chips in, he’ll be headed elsewhere.

Noah Syndergaard

Whether it’s feasible, or not, every Major League ballclub would be interested in adding Noah Syndergaard to their rotation. As previously mentioned, the Mets are in sell mode and would be looking to deal one of their best players for top dollar. Before the season, new GM Brodie Van Wagenen felt very confident in his ball club, but has since changed his tone which may lead to the Mets dealing their young ace.

Syndergaard hasn’t had his best season while posting a 4.68 ERA, but is a controllable arm that would be available until 2022. There’s been plenty of tension between him and their front office and a change of scenery could benefit one of the game’s best talents. Between a 100 mph fastball and ferocious breaking stuff, “Thor” has the ability to blossom into one of Boston’s best.

There will be plenty of suitors for the available ace, but unless the Red Sox are willing to part ways with a prospect package comparable to a Craig Kimbrel deal, it doesn’t seem likely.