As we approach July 31, 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.
Boston Red Sox: 43-34, 1st in the American League East
The American League East is not to be slept on this season. The race is going to be hot, and the Red Sox have arguably some of the best arms with Chris Sale (2.85 ERA and a whopping 146 strikeouts) and Craig Kimbrel (20 saves, 1.10 ERA). However, until Dave Dombrowski cracks the science of genetically cloning his top hurlers, Boston runs the risk falling behind in the divisional race because of... well, the rest of their rotation.
What moves have they made so far?
Most teams are playing small ball this year when it comes to moves, but the Red Sox have made some waves with recent transactions.
Two of the biggest moves the Red Sox have made since last season were signing Sale during the Winter Meetings and shipping Clay Buchholz off to Philly. Sale made his way to the coast via the dealing of a fresh crop of young prospects to the White Sox. The return on Buchholz was second-base prospect Josh Tobias and not having to pay the 32-year old’s $13.5M contract.
The Red Sox traded shortstop Yeison Coca as the player to be named later to the Brewers for Tyler Thornburg in a deal that already sent third baseman Travis Shaw, pitching prospect Josh Pennington, and infield prospect Mauricio Dubon to Milwaukee. Thornburg is out for the season after arm surgery, while Shaw has performed well for the Crew thus far.
In mid-June, Boston claimed righty Doug Fister off of waivers from the Angels. He pitched well in his first game, giving up three earned runs and striking out six. That’s not a fair test sample, so it’s too early to determine if the Fister deal will fill the need in the Sox’ rotation created by the losses of Stephen Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson
In the offseason, Boston signed free agent first baseman Mitch Moreland for one year, $5.5M. His bat has been working for that paycheck, hitting .275 this year with 12 home runs.
Jhonny Peralta joined the Sox by way of a minor league contract to fill the Grand Canyon sized chasm over at third base. Even though he was slashing an anemic .204/.259/.204 in St. Louis, if Peralta is called up to the majors he’ll give the Boston infield a veteran presence and some much needed leadership.
Let’s not forget, this is a team now without David Oritz and his mighty bat. They need to do more work to make up for that dip in offense.
Are they buyers or sellers?
Buyers. The Sox need another third baseman, point blank. So far this chop-shop technique hasn’t worked out for them. Although Peralta is a more dependable solution than their previous options, its still putting duct tape over a crack in the Hoover Dam.
The Red Sox also need pitching, because of the injuries. Even the healthy starters have not produced, as Drew Pomeranz has struggled to a 4.07 ERA and Rick Porcello has not lived up to expectations after a Cy Young campaign. A possible target for them could be Johnny Cueto, who will likely be opting out of his contract once the season is over. . Cueto has expressed interest in returning to the American League, though the uncertainty considering his opt-out has clouded his market a bit.
Boston has been linked to Sonny Gray in recent reports, but is probably more likely to stick with Sale, David Price, Porcello, Pomeranz and Rodriguez once they’re all healthy. Johnson is a solid depth option, along with Roenis Elias and Henry Owens.
Who could they trade for major-league help?
Dombrowski emptied a good chunk of the farm to acquire Sale, so there isn’t much left to squeeze out of it. Though he’s still Dave Dombrowski, always willing to deal prospects away to chase a title, and he has guys like Henry Owens, Sam Travis, Deven Marrero and others available.
The Sox have gone half the season without a solid third baseman. Even if Sandoval comes back with some fervor, he can’t be in the corner simply because Boston wants to get their money’s worth. Bringing Peralta back to Boston is a start, but it can’t be their long term solution. Because they don’t just need someone at the hot corner, they also need a bat to go along with it.
While Todd Frazier’s average isn’t much to be excited about right now, but he did hit 40 home runs last season, for what it’s worth. The Red Sox have also been linked to Mike Moustakas, who is both a power hitter and will be a free agent at the end of this season. Peralta won’t be the last third baseman move that the Sox made. I still have my money on them going for Fraizer.
There’s also pitching. Boston has already been linked to Sonny Gray of the Athletics, and could jump into the mix for guys like Jose Quintana of the White Sox or Cueto. Dombrowski is known as Dealin’ Dave for a reason, so expect him to get creative in looking for additions before the 31st.