The Boston Red Sox are leading the wild card by 2 games and sit second in the AL East, 2 games out of first place. It sounds crazy that the Red Sox have six All-Stars and still have more questions on their roster than answers. Boston will need to make some solid moves at the deadline without selling off any big chip prospects, because it does not appear that anyone worth moving them will be available at the deadline. Among the Red Sox needs are a starter, a reliever, an outfielder, and maybe even now a third baseman with a banged up Travis Shaw's predictable decline in progress. Dave Dombrowski will have his work cut out for him to make this team into a true contender and he should try to patch roster holes by being smart and not caving to the sometimes overzealous demands of the fan base.*
*Disclaimer to this entire article, these issues would not need to be address if that $31 million lump of pudding, David Price, could pitch like he is being paid. I do not care if he has a good ERA over his last 10 starts and blah blah blah....he has no ability to sack up and win a game. He constantly gives up home runs to scrubs on the opposing teams and the Red Sox are buried after the first inning when he is bound to give up at least one run. I need 8 innings, 1 run, 10+ strikeouts from this "ace" not a back breaking home run to a sub-250 hitting platoon player in the first and seventh innings.* End rant. (Shout out to Price for listening to me and pitching well Sunday)
Dombrowski has now filled some of the holes the Red Sox had by adding depth to the team without giving any noteworthy prospects. In the last week or so, Dombrowski has checked off a reliever and a third baseman while also adding a solid bench piece. So far, Brad Ziegler, Aaron Hill, and Michael Martinez have all been added to the roster and have pushed Ryan Lamarre, Marco Hernandez, and Sean Sullivan off of the roster. So far, so good. However, this team still is best suited with an everyday left fielder, not named Brock Holt and desperately needs a quality starter. After the All-Star break the Red Sox are bringing back Eduardo Rodriguez who has once again "fixed his tipping pitches problem," and they are re-inserting Clay Buchholz into the rotation for the 4 innings and 6 runs he is good for.
Sooner than later, the questions will be answered and Dombrowski will make a move to acquire a rotation piece and hopefully a steady outfielder. Sliding Holt back to the super-utility spot will give this team unmatched depth and the ability to give Hanley, Shaw, Pedroia, and Ortiz much needed days off to keep nagging injuries from adding up.
First Trade Partner: Minnesota Twins
First off, Sonny Gray is not coming to the Red Sox, neither are Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale, Matt Harvey, or Julio Teheran. While Teheran was a good target earlier in the season, it appears that his price tag has become too much for what the Red Sox should be willing to give up. This brings the Minnesota Twins into play. Not only are they an AL-worst 29-55 but they have given out some bloated pitching contracts that they will be more than happy to unload to deadline buyers. Here is where the Red Sox step in and kill two birds with one stone by acquiring Ervin Santana and Robbie Grossman. Ervin Santana, coming off of his best start of the season (CG, 2-hitter) will not light the world on fire, but he averages just under 6 innings a start and has a tidy 1.29 WHIP on the season. He will be the perfect person to slot into the 4th spot of the rotation behind Price, Wright, and Porcello.
The sweetner to taking on the remaining two-years, $13.5 million per year left on Santana's deal will be for the Twins to kick in Robbie Grossman. Grossman came over to the Twins at the beginning of the year and has become a regular in their lineup. But with the team going nowhere fast, the Twins should be more than willing to move on from him. The Red Sox would acquire someone who can play everyday in left and become the true platoon partner for Bryce Brentz until Chris Young comes back. This also keeps Brock Holt from becoming an everyday player while being able to fill in all around the diamond where he is most valuable. The Twins would shed Santana's contract and also get rid of their outfield jam, so they can play all their young prospects and build for the future. This deal will not make any headlines, but it will improve the Red Sox for the rest of the year.
The Deal: Red Sox acquire RHP Ervin Santana and OF Robbie Grossman from the Minnesota Twins for LHP Henry Owens, SS Deven Marrero, 1B Nick Longhi, and RHP Ty Buttrey
Second Trade Partner: Oakland Athletics
Rich Hill will be the best starting pitcher moved at the deadline. What should bother every Red Sox fan about a potential move for Rich Hill is that he could have already been on this team if the Red Sox were able to see how thin their starting pitching depth was at the beginning of the year. Rich Hill would give the Red Sox a borderline front of the rotation starter that would act as a nice bookend to David Price with Stephen Wright in the middle. Billy Beane will definitely make sure a bidding war is had for Rich Hill, but the upside in the prospects the Red Sox can offer, to a relatively weak Oakland system, should be enough to entice Beane to pull the trigger.
The Deal: Red Sox acquire LHP Rich Hill for 1B Josh Ockimy, RHP Travis Larkins, 3B Michael Chavis and cash
Third Trade Partner: San Diego Padres
Here is where the Red Sox could probably scoop up a starter for the cheapest, in terms of prospects. The Red Sox could snap up Andrew Cashner for cheap, seeing as he is in the midst of a poor season. He has a 5.40 ERA in 61.2 innings and has been frustrating the Padres fan base all season. Sound familiar? He's the national league Clay Buchholz. He has the potential to be a front line starter but rarely sustains the ability to anchor a staff. Cashner is a free agent at the end of the year and could probably be had for cheap. However, this should be a last resort for the rotation.
The Deal: Red Sox acquire RHP Andrew Cashner and cash for RHP Pat Light and IF Josh Rutledge
Other Trade Potentials
I would not count on them bringing in a Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, or Jay Bruce, but they could be players for Alejandro De Aza, Nick Markakis, Jeff Francoeur, or Daniel Nava, but those guys will not come with any substantial cost. One thing is for sure, if the Red Sox want to get better; they need to stop waiting for the problems to fix themselves and make some moves at the deadline.
By Dan Cantone