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A Red Sox Trade Deadline Preview


                                

We are in the middle of peak wedding season.  Beautiful couples are tying the knot all over the place.  I make up half of one of those beautiful couples.  My fiancé and I are getting hitched on Friday and I couldn’t be happier.  I am so excited that I get the chance to marry the woman of my dreams in front of all our friends and family.  I must say a wedding can be extremely stressful to plan, yes ladies it is even stressful for the groom too.  Luckily for me, my fiancé has been incredible!  She has done a fantastic job planning virtually the entire event.  She has been on top of everything and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.  She is an amazing woman and as of Friday, I will have officially signed her to a lifelong contract.  We are also in the middle of another special time of the year…the MLB non-waiver trade deadline season.  And unlike my bride to be, I don’t know if Red Sox’ President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski is on top of it.
Photo courtesy of bostonsportsjournal.com













Heading into July, major league baseball teams begin to search the trade market to better their teams for the stretch run.  By this point in the season general managers recognize if there club is a buyer or seller.  Buyers are on the prowl to add to their teams to make a run at a championship.  Sellers are typically ready to sell their aging stars or high level role players for young talent to build towards their future. 

Dave D and company are setting themselves up to be buyers.  The Red Sox currently hold one of the best records in all the big leagues.  I believe the Boston Red Sox will be trying to improve 2 or maybe even 3 roles on their team.  If you’ve only watched a handful of games you know that they need help in the back end of their bullpen.  I could also see the Sox look to add more power to their lineup and possibly their bench.  The Red Sox could use a good batter to have on the bench for pinch hitting situations.  If you are going to have 2 or 3 dead spots in your lineup for defensive purposes then you need pop off the bench.  The front office will be getting together for numerous meetings to discuss what players are available and what the Sox organization can offer to acquire that talent.    

Let’s talk about what the Red Sox have to trade.  Their minor league organization as a whole has been wiped out from the past few trades.  The Red Sox only have 2 players in the MLB Pipeline top 100 prospect list.  Dombrowski has, in my opinion, over paid in almost every deal he has made. Make sure to come back to Boston Sports on Tap to check out my overall assessment of Dave Dombrowski at a later date. Seriously make sure you come back and read that article as well.  

Due to the lack of real star power in the minors Dave D is going to have to get creative. The Red Sox two top prospects, their only prospects that are on the MLB top 100 list, are essentially untradeable. Michael Chavis was suspended for performance enhancing drugs and their top pitching prospect is going to be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery for the next year. For those who may be wondering, Tommy John is an elbow surgery used to repair any damage to the UCL.  Dombrowski already has to work with a depleted system but the difficulty is increased when you remove his top two prospects.  Expect the Sox to try and trade big leaguers Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr, or maybe even Rafael Devers. 

The Red Sox’ #4 and #5 ranked prospects, Tanner Houck and Bryan Mata are not performing well this season.  I would assume their draft stock is low at the moment.  Some minor leaguers you may see come up in trade talks are Bobby Dalbec, CJ Chatham, Josh Ockimey, Sam Travis or Jalen Beeks.  You won’t find these names high on any prospect list but they have tools other teams may desire and are currently having good minor league seasons.  If you’d like to see their detailed scouting reports check out MLB Pipeline.  It surely seems Dombrowski is going to have to put his salesman pants on to get teams interested in their minor league talent pool. 

Now the fun stuff…the speculation.  Who could be available via trade?  What players are out there for the Red Sox to acquire?  Usually these players are traded away from the teams considered to be sellers at the deadline.  Teams that stink are usually the clear sellers. 

The Red Sox bullpen is currently ranked 6th in the majors with a combined ERA of 3.14.  Not too shabby, but I don’t think anyone would say they have complete confidence in the bullpen to produce leading up to and throughout the playoffs.  However, the Sox’ closer is one of the best in the entire league.  Craig Kimbrel is among the leaders in saves and currently reps a 2.32 ERA.  The ninth inning is spoken for.  We all believe that Kimbrel will get the job done.  It’s the eighth inning that could be very nerve racking.   This will most likely be the main area of focus during this trade season.  Some relief pitchers that you may see linked to the Red Sox are Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Hand, Blake Treinen, Raisel Iglesias, Felipe Vazquez, Seung-hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, and Jake Diekman.  Unfortunately one of best available arms was already traded when Kelvin Herrera was dealt to the Nationals.  It remains to be seen if the Sox actually have a shot at one of these talented relievers but you can bet that they will try.

My favorite of the bunch would be the Oakland A’s closer, Blake Treinen.  If I had to guess I would say that his trade cost will be too high for the Red Sox but fans can still hope.  Treinen has filthy stuff, he owns a pristine 0.98 ERA, he has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings and he strikes out more than his fair share of batters.  He has an elite K per 9 with 11.1.  Blake is having himself a career year for a bum team so you could absolutely see his name circulating the trade rumors, I just don’t know if the Red Sox have the goods to get a deal done. 

Boston’s bullpen could really use a good lefty.  A possible fit could be the Texas Ranger’s reliever Jake Diekman.  Diekman isn’t the closer for the Rangers which would hypothetically keep his trade value to a reasonable level.  Jake’s delivery is a bit funky which is always valuable for relief pitchers.  He has a very respectable ERA of 2.96 and is one of the Rangers’ bullpen leaders in strikeouts.  If his price doesn’t get too high, Diekman may be the eighth inning guy before you know it. 

Personally I think the most affordable arms are going to come from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Their names are Tyler Clippard and Seung-hwan Oh.  Of course that leads to the big question…would the Jays send relief help to one of their division rivals?  I believe the answer is yes as long as the Sox make a good enough offer.  Blake Swihart for either pitcher is a very realistic offer.  Both pitchers have ERA’s in the threes with very solid strikeout totals.  Oh has struck out 40 batters, while Clippard has 41 K’s.  Neither pitcher has the stuff that most of the other pitchers mentioned possess but their trade value may not be too rich for the prospect poor Red Sox organization. 

Adding bullpen help is certainly the Sox top mission, but won’t be their only mission.  The bottom 3rd of Boston’s lineup doesn’t present many challenges for opposing pitching staffs.   The players that usually hit 7, 8, 9 (Swihart, Leon, Vazquez, JBJ, Nunez) own a batting average of .207.  That means that if each batter gets 3 at-bats in a given game they may not even get 2 combined hits.  With holes that massive in a third of your lineup it would make a lot of sense for the Sox brass to add some pop.  Unfortunately I don’t know if Boston will end up adding a bat mainly due to their lack of prospects.  For a team to add a real difference maker at the trade deadline they usually have to pay for it.  If the organization decides to go full throttle for another bat these are some possibilities.  You could see Jose Abreu, Josh Donaldson, J.T. Realmuto, and Adrian Beltre all be made available by their teams.  Truthfully I highly doubt the Red Sox trade for any of these players.  I know that’s not fun but I have to be honest here. The likely hood of Boston being able to acquire a special hitter like Abreu is slim to none, which sucks.  But if somehow, someway the Red Sox could add a bat like Abreu they would create one of the most talented offenses in the MLB.  If Betts, Benny, Abreu, Martinez, Bogey, Moreland is your 1-6, who cares who’s batting 7, 8, 9. 

Given the very unlikely scenario where Boston adds an everyday impact batter, the next best thing would be to add pop to come off their bench.  Trading for a player of this caliber would come cheaper than the stars previously mentioned.  The Sox could make a call to the Chicago White Sox to try and add slugger Matt Davidson.  Davidson may not be a household name, probably because he has a .223 batting average and plays for a scrub team.  Davidson also strikes out a ton.  He strikes out 35.5 percent of the time.  He also stinks on defense.  So why would the Red Sox want to acquire Davidson’s services?  Because the man can hit bombs.  Despite his low average, and awful strikeout rate, Matt Davidson has 13 homers this season.  Davidson also slugged 26 home runs in 2017.  He won’t be the major impact hitter that the Sox could really use but he could impose a threat to come off the bench late in games. 

Trading season is my favorite part of the MLB regular season.  I enjoy following rumors, checking other team’s rosters to see if anyone they have could help the Red Sox.  I also play a bunch of fantasy sports and I love making trades myself.  So watching big league clubs make trades is very fun for me to follow.  It’s exciting to see how the contenders will try to boost their roster as they compete for a World Series.  So now it is time to sit back and see what Dave D and company can pull off to help this roster. 

Follow me on Twitter @Matty_wests1de 

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