As far as we know, the two main focuses for the Red Sox for this trade season has been in the bullpen and on the bench with a right-handed bat, at least per Evan Drellich a couple weeks ago. Obviously, these things are fluid and they can add additional targets to this, but as far as we know these were the main targets. With Steve Pearce now on the roster, presumably relief help is the main focus. However, that does not mean there aren’t more problem spots for the Red Sox. Over the course of the entire season, center field and catcher have been black holes are various points of the year, though things are turning around of late. More recently, there has been reason to worry about the back end of the rotation. The one spot that has been a real issue that hasn’t turned itself around too much has been second base. I’m certainly not the first person to mention a possible need at this position, but is it just typical fan worrying or should the Red Sox add a new position on their wish list this summer?
Really, this question comes entirely down to Dustin Pedroia. We knew that a large percentage of the early-season was likely going to be spent with subpar production at the position was we waited for the long-time second baseman to return from his knee injury. He made his return in June, but it lasted all of three games before heading back to the disabled list. Now, we haven’t heard much about his recovery and anything we have heard hasn’t been very encouraging. It’s really not clear if he’ll be back this year at this point, and if he is it’s not clear how much trust they can put in him staying on the field. That doesn’t even include the question of what he can provide in terms of value if/when he does play.
The Red Sox know all of this much better than any of us, of course, but I am struggling to find a scenario where they could really be confident in Pedroia providing anything in 2018. At the same time, if they do think he can come back it’s hard to think they could trade for an everyday player to have in front of him on the depth chart. Ultimately, the line is an extremely fine one to walk, and I don’t envy Dave Dombrowski and company for the decision they have to make.
Really, the best cop-out may be that the in-house replacement options have been looking much better of late. Unsurprisingly, this has largely corresponded with Eduardo Núñez playing less often and Brock Holt getting more time. Overall, the team’s second basemen rank 22nd in fWAR, but over the last 30 days they are up to the middle of the pack and over the last two weeks they are in the top ten in all of baseball. Holt is having perhaps the best season of his career and Núñez is starting to show some of that offensive upside that made him an intriguing offseason target.
Ultimately, I think the question of whether or not the Red Sox should trade for a second baseman and whether or not they will is a different question. Someone like Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera who could fill in at third base as well could make more sense, but until Pedroia is ruled out I can’t imagine them dealing for someone to place in front of him on the depth chart. In a vacuum, second base could be a need, but no baseball team operates in a vacuum. This is an odd situation, and it’s certainly one that merits watching over the next couple of weeks, both in terms of Pedroia’s status and the performances from Holt and Núñez.