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Red Sox Trade Deadline Special

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Sitting with the second-best record in the MLB at 62-39, Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox are in position to be buyers at the Trade Deadline. With Alex Cora back as manager, the Red Sox look like a championship-caliber team again and may be a few pieces away from solidifying themselves as favorites to win it all. This year’s Trade Deadline is set to be as wild as ever, with tons of star players looking to be available and on the move. The division-rival Tampa Bay Rays currently sit two games behind the Red Sox and they recently added slugger Nelson Cruz, adding even more pressure on Bloom and the Red Sox to bolster their squad at the deadline.

Jul 22, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; The Boston Red Sox celebrate their walk off win during the tenth inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox Team Needs

First Baseman

Bobby Dalbec is still young and has a bright future ahead of him, but he has struggled mightily this year. Last season, Dalbec was a rare bright spot for the Red Sox. In just 23 games, Dalbec hit eight homers and had a .959 OPS, emerging as a key piece of Boston’s future. However, Dalbec is hitting just .218 with a .656 OPS this year, and the Red Sox definitely could use more production from first base. Through Sunday, Boston’s first basemen are last in FanGraphs WAR at -1.3, and their 62 wRC+ is also last in the MLB, 11 points behind Cleveland at #29.

Potential Trade Targets

Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana, Jonathan Schoop, Jesus Aguilar

Jul 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) smiles before a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rizzo was drafted by the Red Sox in 2007, and a reunion would make sense for both teams. The Red Sox are in need of a reliable first baseman and a lefty bat in the lineup, and Rizzo checks both boxes. While Rizzo was once an MVP-caliber player, he is hitting just .248 with a .795 OPS this year after hitting .222 in last year’s shortened season. Rizzo will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The asking price on Rizzo is reportedly high at the moment, and the Red Sox may be better off targeting a cheaper-option.

Carlos Santana is a veteran switch-hitter who hits for power and draws a lot of walks. Despite hitting for power, Santana is good at putting the ball in play, something Cora looks for his players to do. This year, Santana’s strikeout rate is 15.7%, less than half of Dalbec’s 37.4% strikeout rate. Santana is a dependable player who would help solidify the Red Sox first base position. Jonathan Schoop is in the midst of a fantastic season, hitting .284 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs. Although Schoop has been a second baseman all of his career, he has played significantly more first base with the Tigers this year. His versatility would benefit the Red Sox if they decide to play Kike Hernandez in center field. Jesus Aguilar is another intriguing option at first base. He is a prolific power hitter who has 17 homers and leads the NL with 72 RBIs this year. His power bat would surely give a boost to this Red Sox lineup.

Relief Pitcher/Set-Up Man

The Red Sox bullpen has been a pleasant surprise this year, posting the sixth-best ERA in the league at 3.56. Matt Barnes is a large part of that success and the all-star has been magnificent as the Red Sox closer. In addition, guys like Garrett Whitlock, Josh Taylor, and Hirokazu Sawamura have all exceeded expectations after being huge question marks entering the year. Adam Ottavino and Darwinzon Hernandez have also had their moments, but they have been inconsistent. The Red Sox would certainly benefit from adding a reliable set-up man to get the game in the hands of Matt Barnes. Ottavino has been in the set-up role for much of the year and he’s been solid overall, but he’s struggled lately, allowing 4 runs in his last 2.1 innings of work.

Potential Trade Targets

Craig Kimbrel, Richard Rodriguez, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Bard, Daniel Hudson, Ryan Tepara, Joakim Soria, Yimi Garcia, Taylor Rogers, Raisel Iglesias, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Jose Cisnero

Jul 16, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox have a lot of options in the reliever market this trade deadline. The most intriguing name on the list is Craig Kimbrel, the former Red Sox closer who helped the club win the 2018 World Series. At 33-years-old, Kimbrel is having his best season yet. Kimbrel owns a dazzling 0.49 ERA with a 0.71 WHIP, and his 371 career saves ranks ninth in MLB history. The asking price on Kimbrel would be high, but the potential duo of Barnes and Kimbrel in the Red Sox bullpen again would be dynamite. There are many other relievers on the market who the Red Sox could acquire for much less. It will be interesting to see if they specifically target a lefty-arm, as their bullpen only consists of two lefties in Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez. If so, Taylor Rogers of the Twins would be a name to watch.

Starting Pitcher

The Red Sox rotation currently consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards, Martin Perez, and Tanner Houck. The rotation has been solid and is headlined by Eovaldi, who was named an all-star this year. With Chris Sale returning from injury soon, the Red Sox may not be desperate to make a starting pitching move. Nonetheless, the rotation consists of a lot of question marks.

The first question mark is whether Eduardo Rodriguez can return to his 2019 form, when he finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting. Rodriguez missed all of last season after being diagnosed with myocarditis, a scary heart-related injury. Making his return this season, Rodriguez started the year slow, but he’s actually been better than his stats suggest. Despite his 5.23 ERA, he has posted a career-best 3.50 FIP (fielding independent pitching) this year.

Another question mark is what type of production Pivetta, Perez, and Richards will provide. They have all had up-and-down seasons, and this inconsistency in the rotation is definitely not ideal. At the moment, it looks like Pivetta should have a spot in the rotation going into the postseason, while Perez and Richards may be on the outside looking in.

Lastly, whether Tanner Houck can continue his stellar pitching will be a question mark for the Red Sox. Houck has been spectacular ever since he got called up last year, and his 6’5 frame makes him a lot like a righty-version of Chris Sale. Houck has a career 1.54 ERA and 11.3 SO/9, and he can be used as both a starter or a reliever.

With all these question marks and Sale still rehabbing, the Red Sox should pursue a reliable starting pitcher ahead of their playoff push.

Potential Trade Targets

Max Scherzer, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, Jon Gray, Merrill Kelly, Zach Davies, Caleb Smith, Alex Cob

Jul 18, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

High-end players like Max Scherzer and Jose Berrios headline the starting pitching market, but teams would need to give up a lot of assets to acquire either of them. Is it worth it? Scherzer is one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the MLB and would almost certainly make the Red Sox title favorites, not just this year but also beyond. Berrios is also an elite starting pitcher who is young and controllable for the future. If the Red Sox aren’t willing to go all in for a starting pitcher, they have much cheaper options such as Jon Gray or Zach Davies who can be reliable back-end rotation guys. Kyle Gibson will be a name to watch for at the Trade Deadline, as the 33-year-old is having a career year for the Rangers and was named an all-star this season. A lot of contending teams will be pursuing Gibson, and the Red Sox will be in the mix as well.

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