The trade deadline is fast approaching, and with less than two weeks until teams are no longer allowed to buy (or sell) pieces, the Red Sox are clearly in the buyer category.
The variable is whether the move that Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, will be a headliner, or a minor move to provide depth.
First, let’s examine the Red Sox needs and see who is rumored to be available across the majors, and how much it would cost for each piece.
The platoon of Christian Vasquez and Sandy Leon has been decent, but there is an upgrade here that could be made.
Vasquez started off the year hot, but has since regressed considerably, posting batting averages of .179 and .219 in the months of June and July, respectively.
Leon started to heat up in the month of June but is batting .150 in the month of July.
If a cheap rental option, such as Rangers’ catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, is available, the Red Sox would be smart to pounce on the opportunity.
Lucroy has not enjoyed the same success he had last year, but he is a better option both behind and at the plate than the platoon of Vasquez and Leon.
Lucroy would not cost much, I believe, since his contact is up after this season and the Rangers are falling out of playoff contention for 2017.
Whether the Rangers will sell at the deadline remains to be seen, but if Boston can capitalize and get an expiring contract of a player who is capable of giving the Red Sox offense a boost, it would be a welcome addition, as long as the price is right.
The Red Sox need a power bat, but the only position in the field (other than catcher) that could use improvement is the hot corner.
Devin Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin have done a decent job, providing solid defense, although struggling at the plate. If the Red Sox can improve the offense at third base, it has the chance to become a powerhouse, much like last season.
The Red Sox rank 26th in the majors in home runs and 17th in OPS. Although not all World Series champions built their offense around power, a balance between contact and power is crucial to a team’s world series chances.
Looking at options around the league, the one that makes the most sense is Royals third baseman, Mike Moustakas. Moustakas provides solid defense at third, is a power bat and is a left handed bat. All in all, he would be the perfect acquisition for this team.
Moustakas has enjoyed a solid 2017 campaign, posting a slash line of .267/.546/.845 while also belting 25 home runs and knocking in 55 runs.
The cost though, may be too high. Moustakas is on an expiring contract, so the team that acquires him would not need to pick up any money past this season. The Royals figure to be sellers at the trade deadline.
If the Red Sox can get Moose at a fair price, they will entertain the possibility, but the rival New York Yankees are looking at Moustakas themselves, and they have more ammo, in terms of prospects, if it turns into a bidding war.
Moustakas to the Red Sox does not seem likely, but if it gets done, this offense will have the power lefty, that can play third base, that they have been missing for a while.
The loss of Joe Kelly has already been felt. The Red Sox tied the game against the Blue Jays in the bottom of the seventh Monday evening, and Red Sox relief pitcher, Heath Hembree, coughed the lead right back up.
Behind Kimbrel and Kelly, the bullpen is flawed. Manager John Farrell deserves a ton of credit for the overachieving bullpen, but in the playoffs, talent beats talent, and the Boston bullpen is just not talented.
Matt Barnes struggles away from home, and often times has a tough time finding the plate. Hembree is far too hittable, especially against lefties. Fernando Abad is a lefty specialist.
Joe Kelly has finally won the eighth inning gig, but he can not pitch back to back days due to his recent shoulder issue, and is currently on the disabled list.
Mixing and matching in the sixth and seventh innings is manageable, but the eighth and ninth innings belong to separate relief pitchers.
Insert Detroit Tigers left handed relief pitcher, Justin Wilson, who has been mowing down batters in 2017. Entering play into Wednesday, he owns an ERA of 2.29 and has been a strikeout machine, posting a 12.74 K/9 innings.
Wilson is not a lefty specialist either. Right handed batters are averaging a measly .122 against Wilson this season.
Wilson is under team control through the 2018 season, which will be his age 30 season.
To acquire Wilson, the Red Sox may have to give up a decent prospect, considering Wilson is a left handed reliever who can strike out both righties and lefties, is cheap and under team control for at least another year.
Red Sox third base prospect, Michael Chavis, the Red Sox fourth ranked prospect, according to Sox Prospects, may be the center piece of the deal.
Dombrowski has effectively gutted most of the minor league talent, so giving up a prospect (or multiple) that could have a future in the big leagues scares me. However, with Devers ahead of Chavis in the third base depth chart of the future, Chavis is expendable, and valuable.
If the Red Sox have a lead heading into the seventh inning, and they send out the trio of Wilson-Kelly-Kimbrel, it is effectively game over. Add in a potential return of Carson Smith, and the Red Sox bullpen instantly becomes a weapon in October.
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