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2016 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Boston Red Sox

A look at what the Red Sox will do in advance of the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
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Boston Red Sox: 42-36, 2nd in the AL East

After two years in the cellar of the AL East, the Red Sox are back in contention after the major offseason additions of David Price and Craig Kimbrel. Despite committing significant money and trading major prospects in an effort to improve the pitching staff over the winter, Boston has been an offensive powerhouse with a sub-par pitching performance for most of the season.

Boston’s rotation ranks 18th in the majors with a 4.36 ERA, and the team is running out of options after beginning the season with what seemed like strong starting pitching depth. Although Steven Wright (2.18 ERA in 15 starts) has been stellar and Rick Porcello has been serviceable (3.78 ERA in 18 starts), the team’s projected top starters, David Price and Clay Buchholz have struggled mightily, with the latter being demoted to the bullpen for a stretch. Projected rotation members Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez have both been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, and stopgap options Roenis Elias, Sean O’Sullivan and Henry Owens have been terrible as well.

With that said, it’s obviously all about pitching heading into July for Dave Dombrowski and his staff. Similar to the Blue Jays at this juncture last season, Boston’s exceedingly strong offense won’t be enough for a postseason push without an improved starting group.

The Sox are 10-16 in June, and are expected to be active in Dombrowski’s first trade deadline at the helm. Dombrowski is known as one of the most aggressive traders in all of baseball, and just one year ago led a sale of Price and Yoenis Cespedes as the Tigers fell out of contention in late July.

What moves have they made so far?

Boston has been quiet this year on the trade front, opting not to complete a deal since Opening Day. The team has been busy shuffling its rotation, using nine different starters while shuffling Kelly, Rodriguez, Owens and Buchholz due to their struggles.

The Sox did make one small pitching move recently, signing reliever Casey Janssen to a minor-league deal. It remains to be seen if Janssen can be a factor at the major-league level this season.

Are they buyers or sellers?

With the pitching situation seeming to get more dire by the day, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Boston will be an aggressive buyer throughout the month of July. The team is likely to add one or two starters in the next month, while exploring a variety of front-end, middle-tier and back-end starting pitchers. The bullpen has also been a bit of an issue, and there will be plenty of relievers available in July. As Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported last month, Boston is telling teams that they want starters and relievers before August 1.

Boston could also look to add some depth to other parts of its roster, including at catcher (due to the struggles of Christian Vazquez) and in the outfield. A left-handed hitting corner outfielder might be a nice complement to Chris Young and Bryce Brentz, who have both been productive in the majors this year.

Who will they target?

Boston is going to be in on almost every available starting pitcher, even seemingly untouchable aces like Jose Fernandez (Marlins) and Gerrit Cole (Pirates), who they have inquired on. The Sox are known to have interest in a pair of Braves pitchers, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, and have also expressed a willingness to talk to the Yankees about relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.

On the positional side, the Sox will likely inquire on available Brewers Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, and were reported to have interest in Jon Jay of the Padres before the outfielder went down with a broken forearm. Jay’s teammate Derek Norris may be a fit at catcher, though his struggles this season may cause a lack of interest.

Predictions

Boston is not willing to deal major-league stars Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, so it’s unlikely that someone like Fernandez or Cole will be joining the team anytime soon. But there are many pitchers (especially relievers), and it’s a safe bet to say a few will end up with the Red Sox by the end of the month.

The Red Sox have one of the strongest system in the majors (even after giving up a haul for closer Craig Kimbrel), and will have to dig deep into it in order to make impact moves in July. Prospects Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers are thought of as untouchable, though teams will likely push Dombrowski hard for them in talks for high-end starting pitching.

Dombrowski and his staff are dealing from a position of desperation as trade season begins, as a team that looked like the American League favorite for most of May has struggled to keep up with the surging Orioles throughout June. Dombrowski has never been afraid to make big moves before, and the same should hold true for his first full summer in Boston.