There is only so much focus a human mind can spread out among different thoughts before going blank and just not having the space left for more. For most of us, baseball only takes up a fraction of that space because we have other priorities. And in that fraction of a space that baseball takes up, right now most of that energy is either going toward the way the Red Sox are playing right now or the upcoming draft, and that is all for good reason. Those are good areas to put one’s focus.
But the draft being pushed back to July does sort of mess up the circadian rhythm of a baseball season, as this would normally be a time in which all the focus was on the trade deadline. There has never been a hard and fast rule as to when “trade season” actually began, mostly because “trade season” is not a real thing, hence the quotation marks, but generally speaking people had put a line in the sand at the draft when it was held in June. After that concluded, front offices would focus their energy away from the amateur ranks and toward the coming trade deadline.
So today, I want to focus on that trade deadline and quickly take the focus away from the team in the here and now as well as the draft. And looking at the Red Sox, they don’t necessarily need anything on the trade market right now — they have the best record in the AL with reinforcements internally on the way — but they certainly should be looking for upgrades. I’ve seen some concern about the luxury tax, but a team with the best record in their league and a legitimate chance at a World Series run should not be concerned about that. They should be doing whatever it takes, within reason of course, to upgrade this roster.
As far as what they’ll be looking for at the deadline, we’ll get into more specific targets after the draft concludes — even I can’t escape those old circadian rhythms — but it seems reasonable for them to at least look for some depth in their bullpen and help at the bottom of their lineup, particularly on the right side of the infield. But there is a complicating factor for the Red Sox this summer with respect to their 40-man. We’ll give a tip of the hat to Jeffrey who emailed about this topic, noting that the Red Sox have a handful of prospects on their 40-man who will not be ready to play in the majors this year. Given that they will have to add any additions to their 40-man, Jeffrey wondered if we may see prospects already on the 40-man in whatever deals the team does make, and if so who would be the most likely to be shipped out.
It’s a really interesting point, and one that the Red Sox are surely thinking about right now as they do broach trade talks with other front offices around the league. To start, it’s worth looking at the Red Sox 40-man, which currently sits at 39 after recently transferring Eduard Bazardo to the 60-day injured list. So that’s one open spot, but of course the Red Sox need to make room for internal options as well with Jarren Duran seemingly on the verge of a call-up (we hope, at least), Chris Sale likely set to start his rehab process within the next week or so, and Ryan Brasier working his way back as well. That’s two extra spots that will need to be opened up, and it’s not even including the possibility of adding someone like Kaleb Ort and/or someone(s) else to the mix at some point down the stretch. When you throw in potential trade acquisitions, the 40-man becomes more squeezed.
This is not the first time we’ve talked about the 40-man situation on this site this year, as it was discussed in the context of the pitching depth situation back in May. But now, as we look at potentially off-loading some of the prospects creating the squeeze, it’s worth first simply mentioning who we’re even talking about. Here is the list of players on the Red Sox 40-man that would seemingly have virtually no chance at playing in the majors this year:
- Bryan Mata
- Jay Groome
- Jeisson Rosario
- Hudson Potts
- Ronaldo Hernández
So that’s five players right off the bat, and it doesn’t even include some players who are either redundant or could be upgraded on the trade market. When you take that into consideration, you also start to wonder what will happen with Michael Chavis, Marcus Wilson, Jonathan Araúz, and maybe even Franchy Cordero. With Chavis and Araúz, neither instill much confidence as anything other than a Quad-A depth piece for this year, and with Wilson and Cordero they have the shadow of Duran looming over their status as outfield depth.
Obviously, they’re not going to move all nine of these players, and they likely won’t just give any away, but the more I think about what’s coming over the next few months, the more it seems they’ll have to make some sort of moves involving at least one or two of these guys. As we mentioned above, there are three players that will almost certainly need to be added in Duran, Sale and Brasier. And to be fair, there are some DFA options on the 40-man in Yacksel Ríos, Brandon Workman Matt Andriese, Marwin Gonzalez, and Danny Santana, but A, that may still leave room to be created for any other internal or external additions depending on how many they actually designate, B, they may not feel as strongly against some of them as the fans do, and C, it runs the risk of thinning out depth, particularly in the bullpen.
All of this is to say that if the Red Sox do indeed make additions at the trade deadline — and again, it seems crazy not to do so for a team in their position, even if it’s just marginal upgrades rather than adding star-level talent — they’re going to have to include players on the 40-man. And if we’re going to talk about players who are most likely to be deatl, to me Chavis, Wilson, and Rosario make the most sense.
Chavis just doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to get the consistent at bats in Boston he needs to be successful. Plus, he already seems blocked and that will only get worse with the pending arrivals of Jeter Downs and Triston Casas. Wilson is stuck in an outfield picture with Cordero and Duran in Worcester, leaving him an uphill climb to the majors for the Red Sox. And with Rosario, on the one hand it doesn’t feel great to sell relatively low, but with Duran in Worcester and Gilberto Jimenez in Salem, not to mention a few other intriguing center field prospects on the farm, Rosario is a bit redundant in the organization.
That’s not to say any of these guys will be their biggest trade chip, nor that they are the only possibilities of this group to be traded. But at the very least they will seem like a good addition on top of the trade chip to put the trade over the top. Whatever the Red Sox plan on doing this month to supplement this roster and hopefully put themselves in the best possible position they can to make a real run deep into October, it’s somewhat difficult to see them pulling it off without making at least one or two deals involving players on the 40-man roster.