3. Tanner Houck
Tanner Houck is a bit of a wild card. The 27-year-old right-hander showcased his raw talent posting impressive ERA and strikeout per nine numbers in his first three seasons, but his 2023 campaign was undeniably a setback. In 2023, his ERA blew up to 5.01 and he recorded career highs in WHIP, hits per nine, and home runs per nine.
The Red Sox are also in a weird spot where both Garrett Whitlock and Houck have had more success out of the bullpen, but both appear to prefer starting roles. If Kenley Jansen is in fact dealt, then this could trigger a game of musical chairs among the pitching staff that could even include Houck taking on the closing role.
If Houck departs Boston, it would presumably be in exchange for a significant return. He's an attractive trade piece from a salary standpoint (he is expected to earn $770,000 in 2024), his relative youth, and the promise that he has shown in multiple big league seasons. The price needs to be right for the Red Sox to part ways with him.
At the beginning of the offseason, the possibility of pairing Houck with a positional prospect such as Roman Anthony, Marcelo Mayer, or Nick Yorke in a blockbuster trade appeared more feasible (perhaps for Dylan Cease), but the Red Sox' approach to the offseason would make that seem more dubious.
Houck would rank as one of the more valuable trade pieces on Boston's MLB roster, and if Breslow does bring in another starter such as James Paxton, Jordan Montgomery, or Shota Imanaga, then Houck very well might find himself included in a trade package.