The Boston Red Sox find themselves in first place as they reach the middle of May. With a 24-14 record, and at least five games in which John Farrell cost them the W, the Red Sox have a lot to be happy about. However, the team still has some glaring holes that are being covered up by their offense that is steamrolling everyone they face. The biggest holes on this team are in the rotation.
If you are a realist, you know that the other foot will soon drop with Steven Wright. He has been lights out this year, excluding this last start in the rainy conditions, but as every Red Sox fan should know after watching Tim Wakefield for seventeen years, the knuckleball cannot be relied on. On top of that, Rick Porcello has been pitching like he actually deserves that $20 million a year salary, but the waters get very murky behind them.
The rest of the rotation has been filled with an underperforming David Price, with his 6 ERA, Clay Buchholz, need I say more?, and the combination of Henry Owens, Sean O'Sullivan, and Joe Kelly. Joe Kelly appears ready to come back from injury and now that Owens is back in AAA and O'Sullivan has been designated for assignment, it appears his job to lose, if/when Eduardo Rodriguez gets his leg strength back. Outside of the rotation, the flaws are very hard to find, an extra bench piece, a lefty reliever, maybe a stop gap left fielder, but there are changes that are needed and here is what they should be.
Jay Bruce is currently floundering around on the Reds, a team going nowhere, that is looking for pieces to build for the future. Although they already have some building blocks with Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, and Robert Stephenson in their rotation, they lack solid positional players to build with. Bruce currently holds a .258 batting average with 6 home runs and 23 runs batted in while playing a decent outfield. Adding Jay Bruce means the Red Sox can use Chris Young as their fourth outfielder, while shifting Holt back where he belongs, to the super utility role.
Thus, adding Bruce eliminates two needs for the Red Sox, they add some left handed power to balance the lineup and do not have to seek out a bench bat by returning Holt there. The cost of Bruce should also make people happy, when he was almost dealt in the offseason, the price was said to be low, not much should have changed now. Bruce is owed $12.5 million this year and has a $13 million club option with a $1 million buyout, so the Red Sox would be on the hook for only what is left of his money due this year. Of course, the Reds could pick up some of the tab for a better prospect, but either way, the money would not hold up any deal. The Red Sox should steer clear of the Matt Kemps and Ryan Brauns of the world, not only because of the money they are owed, but also the cost of acquiring them and the emergence of recently promoted 2015 first round pick Andrew Benintendi, who is on the fast track to Fenway. Bruce would be the perfect bridge.
Reds trade OF Jay Bruce and cash to the Red Sox for SS Deven Marrero, OF Bryce Brentz and RHP Keith Couch
Why The Deal Gets Done:
The Red Sox get a middle of the order bat that can slide into left field and extend their already deep lineup, while the Reds get some fringe prospects that may stick on their major league team as pieces of the future.
The lefty for the Milwaukee Brewers is currently battling his way back from a LCL injury that he decided not to have surgery on. Smith is downright filthy when he is healthy and a clear upgrade over Tommy Layne in the Red Sox bullpen. Adding Smith would certainly put the Red Sox bullpen as tops in the majors. Already with Kimbrel, Uehara, Tazawa, Carson Smith, and Ross shutting down the back end of the game, adding Will Smith to this group, would give Farrell endless combinations to navigate a win. Smith comes with some risk, he has an LCL injury that may eventually need surgery, but he also comes with team control until 2020 and is one of the best left handed relievers in all of baseball. Smith is due back sometime in June and appears to be on the move if he can prove healthy. Most contenders will be looking to add this arm to their team so he might not come cheap, but the Red Sox have the minor league depth to get it done.
Brewers trade LHP Will Smith to the Red Sox for RHP Ty Buttrey, OF Henry Ramos, and LHP Tommy Layne
Why The Deal Gets Done:
Red Sox add a late inning power arm while swapping out their lefty specialist and moving a couple of top 30 prospects with upside to the rebuilding Brewers.
Teheran will be the hot commodity at the trade deadline. I would not believe any word from Atlanta that they do not want to trade him. He is a bonafide front-end starter who is under team control until 2019, thanks to a 6-year, $32.4 million deal he signed a few years back and has a team option for a reasonable $12 million in 2020. With the current prices for pitching in free agency, Teheran is a steal. Teheran must also want out of Atlanta, they were awful last year and are even worse this year, so a change of scenery will probably do him some good.
He has thrown over 200 innings in each of the last two seasons and appears to have righted the control issues that plagued him early in the 2015 season. He currently has a 3.17 ERA across 48.1 innings with 44 strikeouts and 17 walks. Teheran would be the perfect number two for this rotation and it would lead the Sox to tote out Price, Teheran, Porcello, Wright, Kelly/Rodriguez. If you noticed, Buchholz was missing in that deal it is because he is going to Atlanta. Before I break out the potential trade, moving Buchholz, not only gets him off of the Red Sox but it sets the Braves up with a major league starter that they can either flip in another trade or pick up his $13.5 million option for next season and move him at that deadline. Atlanta seems to have that magic touch with retread pitchers to make them work again.
Braves trade RHP Julio Teheran and a PTBNL to the Red Sox for RHP Clay Buchholz, C Blake Swihart, 3B Michael Chavis, and LHP Trey Ball
Why The Deal Gets Done:
The Red Sox get a frontline starter who is under team control for at least three more seasons while departing from the frustrating Clay Buchholz, a blocked Blake Swihart, and two former first round picks that have substantial upside but seem a long way away from harnessing it.
By Dan Cantone