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2015 trade deadline preview: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have a decision to make as the trade deadline approaches.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox are currently nine games under .500 at 31-40 and are last in the AL East, nine games behind division-leading Tampa Bay. However, Boston has a payroll in excess of $180 million and plenty of young, cost-controlled talent it could use to acquire players that could give the team the quick boost it needs to contend in 2015. So, to buy or to sell, that is the question for the Red Sox.

What might the Red Sox look to buy?

Pitching. The Red Sox have just two starters with ERAs under 4.50. One of them is 22-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez, who has a 3.13 ERA in just 31⅔ innings this season and the other is Clay Buchholz, who has a 2.81 ERA in June.

If Boston is going to get back into contention, it will need to add depth to its starting rotation. The two biggest names on the market are Phillies lefty Cole Hamels and Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto, both of whom the Red Sox could target if they decide to buy.

Even if the Red Sox do not want to trade any of their young, talented pitchers, they have plenty of position players with which to acquire players at the trade deadline, a group headlined by catcher Blake Swihart, who made his big league debut this season and is hitting .239/.282/.325 this season with a home run in 117 at bats with Boston.

Who could the Red Sox sell?

The first name on the list of Red Sox sale candidates is first baseman Mike Napoli, who has a contract that expires at the end of 2015. Napoli could provide a power-hitting bat from the right side for a contender, with his 10 home runs in 222 at bats this season.

Boston could also move outfielder Shane Victorino, though he has just 55 at bats this season, and closer Koji Uehara, whose contract ends after 2016.