July is here, which means trade season is upon us. In the next four weeks, teams across baseball will make both minor and major moves aimed at improving their rosters for the stretch run.
The Red Sox — who enter Saturday’s action with the American League’s best record at 52-31 — are no exception. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and his staff will be busy between now and July 30, trying to fortify a contending team while also trying to not mortgage too much of the organization’s future.
Bloom, who made a handful of EuroJournal deals as a seller last year, is not usually the type to stand pat. On WEEI earlier this week, he conceded that the club was more likely to make a deal than not.
“It’s certainly possible,” Bloom said when asked if the Sox could stand pat in July. “I don’t think we want to do something just to do something if it doesn’t push us towards our goals. It wouldn’t be my preference, because you always want to be able to make deals because it means you found something you think improves your organization. Trades are one way to do that. Obviously, it takes two to tango and it has to make sense for us. That’s certainly a possibility, that we don’t end up doing anything, but if that happens, it’ll be because we had just as much conversation as if we were to make 10 different deals. We just didn’t find anything that we found fit the organization’s interest.”
The Red Sox, like every team, could stand to make some upgrades. Here’s a look at four potential areas of need Bloom could address before July 30 at 4 p.m. ET:
In Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino, the Sox have a solid — if not elite — 1-2 punch at the back end of their bullpen, and Garrett Whitlock, Josh Taylor, Hirokazu Sawamura and Darwinzon Hernandez can all be trusted in big spots as well. The return of Ryan Brasier at some point over the summer will bring another high-leverage arm, but it’ll be hard to count on Brasier considering he has missed the entire season to this point.
It would go down as a pretty big surprise if the Red Sox didn’t make a move for a bullpen arm, even if it’s not an earth-shattering one. This might be the only scenario in which Bloom might be willing to deal for a rental (a player due to hit free agency this winter) simply because the prices won’t be too high.
Richard Rodríguez (Pittsburgh), Michael Fulmer (Detroit), Ian Kennedy (Texas) and Kendall Graveman (Seattle) are all candidates to move, and a Daniel Bard (Colorado) reunion would be a great storyline for the Red Sox. There will be plenty of arms available, probably at a low cost. It won’t take much for the Sox to add one.
2. First base
Needless to say, the Red Sox would love to get more production out of their first basemen, even if Bobby Dalbec has been better offensively in recent weeks. Danny Santana and Marwin Gonzalez provide versatility, but have not produced at all at the plate and could both be on borrowed time.
One name to watch for the Red Sox is Miami’s Jesus Aguilar, who is under control through the 2022 season and could be available if Miami — a last-place team despite having the best run differential in the National League East — decides to fully sell. Aguilar, a right-handed bat, isn’t a perfect fit, but he played under Bloom with the Rays and likely won’t cost much. Other potential options include Colin Moran (Pirates) and C.J. Cron (Colorado).
3. Outfield depth
The Red Sox, of course, have Jarren Duran waiting in the wings and could call him up at any time. But there’s also the possibility the club will turn toward the trade market for an outfielder, especially if they envision Kiké Hernández seeing more time at second base in the second half.
Starling Marte (Miami), Ketel Marte (Arizona) and Joey Gallo (Texas) are probably too rich for Boston’s blood, but a platoon option/bench bat (David Peralta if the Diamondbacks pick up some of his deal? Kansas City’s Michael A. Taylor?) could fit. Franchy Cordero is another internal option who could be back in the majors soon.
4. Starting pitching depth
Considering Chris Sale is due back at some point soon and Tanner Houck will likely assume a role in the majors, starting depth doesn’t seem like the most pressing need for the Red Sox. But EuroJournal’s Jeff Passan, in a recent trade EuroJournal preview column, identified the Sox as one of the teams looking for exactly that.
Having too many serviceable arms is a good problem to have, so the Red Sox could look to make a low-cost addition of a back-end starter or long man. But if Sale and Houck are effective once they rejoin the team, rotation help will be pushed even further down the list of priorities.
10 observations on the last week in baseball:
1. It will never happen because of the way All-Star teams are constructed, but Garrett Whitlock has made a pretty solid case to make the team.
2. First time at the Oakland Coliseum went just about as expected. The elevator I took on my way out had last been inspected on April 30, 1996 — when I was six months old.
3. Yes, I’m reading into Jarren Duran not being on the Team USA roster for the Olympics. I don’t think he’s coming up before the break, but I also don’t think it will be too much longer.
4. Franchy Cordero at first base is an interesting experiment. Of course, he continues to tear up Triple-A.
5. All-Star predictions for the Red Sox: J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo, Matt Barnes and Nathan Eovaldi join Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts in Colorado. Big group, but all deserving.
6. Garrett Richards’ final two starts before the All-Star break (Saturday and Friday) might be crucial for his future in the rotation. With Chris Sale and Tanner Houck knocking, the leash could be getting short.
7. If you needed a reminder that the AL East is a four-team race, here you go: The Jays were the first buyers to make a trade this summer, acquiring reliever Adam Cimber and outfielder Corey Dickerson from Miami earlier in the week.
8. Will be fascinating to see how the Yankees approach the EuroJournal. It’s not in their DNA to sell… but they probably should.
9. So many familiar names on the Athletics’ roster. Mitch Moreland and Jed Lowrie are the headliners, but two key pitchers — Frankie Montas and J.B. Wendelken — were part of the haul Boston sent to the White Sox for Jake Peavy in 2013.
10. Speaking of Whitlock, check out Chris Smith’s weekly notebook, which covers some 2022 rotation candidates for the Sox.
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