In case you haven’t heard, the trade deadline is rapidly approaching at the end of the month. Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox figure to be very active in the trade market and Boston could have a few positions at which they could be seeking help. Some positions are very clearly not going to be addressed. The outfield, for example, is not going to get any help at the trade deadline. The same goes for shortstop, second base and first base. That leaves five positions that could possibly be a target by the end of the month. Let’s rank how important it is they address these positions.
5. Starting Pitcher
Honestly, I’m not even sure starting pitchers should even be part of the conversation. They have been connected to starters like Sonny Gray, and it seems like every year people believe the Red Sox may trade for rotation help, so the rumors won’t go away. Despite that, unless there’s an injury between now and the 31st, it wouldn’t make much sense at all for the Red Sox to look for rotation help. With Eduardo Rodriguez coming back when the team returns from the All-Star break, Boston’s rotation is at full-strength and there is varying reasons for confidence in each and every pitcher. If they did deal for a pitcher, not only would they have to give up some real value in terms of prospects, but they’d also have to drop either Rodriguez or Porcello from the rotation. That wouldn’t really make sense. There’s no reason, barring injury, for the Red Sox to look at the starting pitching trade market.
There have not been many, if any, rumors connecting the Red Sox to the catcher trade market. Despite that, I wouldn’t be completely shocked if those rumors started to pop up at some point soon. Boston’s backstops have been amongst the worst in all of baseball, ranking 24th by both wRC+ and fWAR. The issue with trading for one would be that they would be forced to give up either Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon since both are out of minor-league options. Additionally, the trade market for catchers isn’t exactly robust right now. The one interesting name could be Jonathan Lucroy, who has struggled since joining the Rangers and is set to hit free agency at the end of the year. He would cost very little and has the upside to be one of the better catchers in baseball, although it’s been awhile since he’s been at that level. The only way I see this being realistic is if they have a second trade lined up involving either Leon or Vazquez, as I can’t see them simply exposing one of them to waivers.
3. Right-Handed Reliever
Now, we get into the positions at which the Red Sox are most likely to try and improve later this month. While Boston’s rotation should not be a priority, it would be fairly shocking if they didn’t address their bullpen at the deadline despite the unit’s surprising success for most of this season. Personally, I think they could use more help from the left side than the right side, as the combination of Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes can provide solid relief together. At the same time, it’s also not hard to see all three of them imploding in the second half. In an ideal world, the Red Sox will be able to get a reliever of each handedness. Bullpen help is always more expensive than you’d like at the trade deadline, but if the Red Sox want to make a run this year they’ll have to pay the price. Someone like Pat Neshek could be the ideal kind of cheap(ish) target.
2. Left-Handed Reliever
While the Red Sox have some solid in-house options from the right side, their group of southpaws is less encouraging. Robby Scott, the team’s current primary lefty, has been solid-to-great for most of the season, but he’s starting to backslide a little bit of late. In an ideal world, he is the second lefty on the team. Fernando Abad, meanwhile, has quietly been pretty okay by ERA, but his peripherals are not as encouraging and he’s been mainly relegated to mop-up duty. In an ideal world, the Red Sox will be able to kill two birds with one stone at the deadline by acquiring a primary setup arm who also tosses from the left side. There are a few really good lefties available this summer, including Brad Hand, Justin Wilson and Sean Doolittle. Of course, the price for these arms might be more than many are willing to pay
1. Third Base
Obviously. This has been the clear answer pretty much since the season started and it was clear that Pablo Sandoval wasn’t going to be able to contribute this year. The Red Sox have gotten improved production from the hot corner of late with Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin, but it’s hard to count on that continuing through the entire season. It seems all but certain the Red Sox will do something here over the next couple of weeks. I still believe Todd Frazier is the most likely choice, but am also paralyzed with fear that they end up with Martin Prado.