For the next 10 days, the trade deadline is going to be the focal point for baseball, with all eyes looking at what the contenders are going to add, and what players the selling teams are going to be willing to part with. As far as the Red Sox are concerned, it’s clear that they will be buyers, though what exactly they’ll be targeting and how much they’ll be willing to give up is a different question entirely.
Over the next two days, we’re going to look at the clubs who look like they’ll certainly be sellers, starting today with the American League. Our criteria here will be any team that is at least six games out of a playoff spot. Not all of these teams will definitely sell, and others not included could, but this seems to be a good starting point. And while these teams have other players who could be intriguing trade targets, we’re going to focus on what teams can provide for help at first base, in the rotation, in the bullpen, and with a left-handed hitter for the bench. These seem to be the areas where the Red Sox could feasibly look for upgrades, even if they likely won’t all be addressed before the deadline on July 30.
Trades within divisions are certainly more rare than trades with clubs outside the division, but that doesn’t at all preclude any deal here being done. These two teams have made a deadline deal relatively recently with the roles reversed when Boston sent Andrew Miller to Baltimore for Eduardo Rodriguez. So it does happen.
The bigger issue presented here is that the Orioles just don’t have a whole lot to trade. John Means could be an intriguing player if he’s made available, but for that kind of player a trade within the division could be tougher. Trey Mancini would seem to fit in Boston as well to fill in at first base, but it seems very unlikely he’d be put on the block.
That really just leaves the bullpen for places to look for help in Baltimore. They do have a few intriguing options there, however. They’re not exactly high-end options, but the Red Sox don’t necessarily need a new arm for the eighth or ninth innings. It could make sense to target different arms for the bottom rung of the bullpen to upgrade over Brandon Workman and/or Yacksel Ríos. Hopefully this wouldn’t be the biggest kind of addition, but it could help. Some options in Baltimore would be Cole Sulser, a righty who misses a bunch of bats and can pitch against both righties and lefties; as well as Tanner Scott and Paul Fry, two lefties with a lot of swing and miss. None of those options would cost a whole lot to acquire and wouldn’t move the needle a ton, but it’s about all there is to look at on this roster.
The Tigers add a little more intrigue to the picture here, with a player who could help them out on the right side of the infield. That would be former Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Second base isn’t as much of a need now for Boston with Kiké Hernández swinging better of late and being pushed to the dirt more often after Jarren Duran’s call-up. Fortuntely, Schoop has also gotten some time at first base. He could spent the majority of his time there, but as we know this Red Sox team hasn’t shied away from versatility. Schoop has been in the league for years and is having a strong season at the plate, potentially providing an instant upgrade at the cold corner for a relatively cheap price.
Beyond that, the Tigers don’t offer much potential help in the rotation as most of their starters are on the younger side and part of their future outlook. As in Baltimore, there are some mid-tier relief options in Detroit. José Cisneros is the closer for the Tigers right now, and for the last two seasons he’s proven he can be good enough to be in the picture for a contending bullpen. Joe Jiménez could be another intriguing option. He’s a former closer with big stuff, but has never been able to put it together. This would be more of a flier than a surefire upgrade, but he does have options remaining as well.
When we talk about Royals trade candidates, it always seems as though Whit Merrifield has to lead the conversation. But in this case, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense from a fit perspective with the Red Sox. Instead, Carlos Santana seems like a near-ideal trade candidate. He’s a switch hitter, consistently puts together great at bats, has been in postseason runs before, and is under control for next season. That last part would increase the acquisition price, but it also provides a bridge to the Triston Casas era if you’re ready to move on from Bobby Dalbec for next season.
Santana is my favorite target here, but there are others from the Royals to remember. Ryan O’Hearn could be a cheap left-handed addition who can help out at first base as well as in the outfield corners. On the pitching side, both Mike Minor and Danny Duffy are under control for next season and could pitch either out of the bullpen or in the rotation. That’s a good fit for this Red Sox team with a seemingly solid rotation picture, but one that still brings its own apprehension with both health and performance.
And then moving into the bullpen, there are a handful of true relievers who could be intriguing as well. Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont are both late-inning righties who can miss a ton of bats, while Greg Holland provides some postseason experience, though he’s also pitching much worse this year. All in all, the Royals might provide the best trade partner for the Red Sox among all AL sellers.
The Twins are the biggest surprise among sellers around the league right now. Many, myself included, pegged them as division favorites, but instead they’ll be trading some of their best players. Nelson Cruz is the biggest name to likely be dealt from Minnesota, but a team with J.D. Martinez won’t have any interest there. Instead, the rotation is the biggest place to look for help in Minnesota. Both Kenta Maeda and José Berríos could be available, and would instantly take the Red Sox rotation to a new level. I don’t necessarily see them making a move in the rotation that big, but it’s worth monitoring.
More likely could be in the bullpen, where there are a handful of players who could add the kind of depth the Red Sox should be looking for in the late innings. Taylor Rogers is one of the most underrated late-inning arms in the game right now. Both Hansel Robles and Tyler Duffey have been up and down this year, but provide upside. Caleb Thielbar offers swing and miss stuff from the left side. And Alex Colomé has had a tough year, but could be a buy-low with closer experience.
The Rangers figure to have two of the biggest names teams will be looking at on the market this year, and both could theoretically fit with the Red Sox. One of them is Joey Gallo, who can play both first base and the outfield. Gallo is basically what we all hoped Bobby Dalbec would be this year, possessing perhaps the best raw power in the entire sport while also drawing a ton of walks and striking out a ton. He’s also under team control for one more year after this, which again could provide that bridge to Casas or potentially shake up the outfield picture.
If the Red Sox decide they don’t want another swing-and-miss bat, they could look to the pitching staff where the Rangers have two intriguing targets. In the rotation, Kyle Gibson might get more interest than any other starting pitcher. He had a terrible outing on Monday, but he’s got a 2.86 ERA this season, keeping the ball on the ground and thus in the yard. He’s also under control for one more year. And then over in the bullpen, veteran Ian Kennedy has turned into a really solid late-inning arm over the last few years after a long career as a journeyman starter.