Photo Credit: CBS Sports

We’ve reached that time of year again where trade speculation starts to surface around teams around the league. The MLB trade deadline is really the last chance an organization gets to make its last upgrades. I mean, there’s the waiver claims and everything that happens in August, but besides that, what you have at the end of August, is what your team will have to roll with in hopes of going deep in the playoffs.

For the most part, we know which teams will be selling, and which teams will be buying. For the Red Sox, they most certainly will be buying. As I look at their roster, it’s pretty complete from a depth standpoint at the major league level. The Red Sox have a decent bench, they have the starters, they have plenty of bullpen arms, and they have a formidable lineup that’s capable of producing consistent production day in and day out. What I’m saying is, the Red Sox won’t look to make acquisitions from lack of players at each position. Instead, Dave Dombrowski will look to simply just make upgrades, but it’s not as easy as it seems because that’s what every other contender is trying to do and in terms of the rest of the elite teams in the league, the Red Sox probably have the worst farm system out of the few.

We know the Red Sox will do something, but let’s take a look at some spots on the team that could use an upgrade.

1. The Bullpen
The Red Sox pretty much have only two relievers they can trust. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly. Other relievers include Matt Barnes, who I’ve said over and over again, is just a headache waiting to happen. He’ll look dominate one night, then look like utter trash the next. I don’t want to play with those inconsistencies. I mean, his earned run average is solid at 2.84 in 31.2 innings pitched with a WHIP of 1.14, but in the playoffs, you’re going to want multiple late inning guys you have confidence in to come in and do their jobs that they are paid to do, not do the opposite. The Red Sox also have Heath Hembree who’s basically another Matt Barnes just at a lesser level in terms of stuff and pedigree. He will come in and get the job done and then some days, he just can’t find his command, and that’s when he gets in trouble. Then there are the two long men in Brian Johnson and Hector Velázquez. Both are “okay,” but since when do we see teams with multiple starters in the bullpen? There’s also Tyler Thornburg, who has looked dominant on his rehab assignment, so when he’s ready to return, he should provide some help. All in all, I’m probably over-exaggerating a bit, the Red Sox bullpen is good, but not great. Ask any Red Sox fan, and they will give you the same expression for Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree etc. There’s room for an upgrade, and Dombrowski will once again be targeting a late-inning reliever for the third year in a row.

Potential Targets: RHP Nate Jones (White Sox), RHP Raisel Iglesias (Reds), LHP Brad Hand (Padres), RHP Kyle Barraclough (Marlins).

2. An Outfield Bat (Right-Handed)

The next one may be a little shocking, but I think the Red Sox need another outfield bat. Andrew Benintendi and MVP candidate Mookie Betts are fine, I’m talking about Jackie Bradley Jr. We know he’s streaky and wildly inconsistent, but this is his sixth year in the league, and he’s only batting .233 for his career and in 2018, he’s hitting only .184. You’ve got to be kidding me. The only thing keeping him in the lineup is his spectacular defense and his upside which we’re still waiting to see on a consistent basis. Granted, he’s had some bad luck this year. He’s actually squaring the ball up, he’s just hitting it right at people. Still though, if you’re hitting .184 that goes farther than just having some “bad luck.” If you’re a player batting that low in batting average, maybe there’s a trade-off with having good power numbers, but not with Jackie Bradley Jr. Next thing, is it too much to ask to at least try to generate a little production from JBJ. A bunt, a shorter swing? Choking up? I know he has to do what’s comfortable for him, but a bunt here or there maybe, or even just making simple contact when you need it with a runner on third would help this team a whole lot from the nine hole. These are things that hurt your team if you’re not able to do them in the playoffs. We know Jackie Bradley Jr will save a ton of runs from the opponent with his defense, but we need to see more with the bat. I’m stretching a little because a move for another everyday outfielder is unlikely, but I’d like to see more offense from our everyday centerfielder then what we are getting. Hopefully, there’s a turnaround waiting to happen because if it does, I’m sure any Red Sox fan will take that in a heartbeat. Elite defense, plus a serviceable bat. Yes, please.

Potential Targets: Adam Jones (Orioles), and in my opinion, the most ideal fit, Whit Merrifield (Royals).

I think the number one upgrade Boston will be targeting is a relief pitcher, but other than that, there’s just not much the Red Sox can do without trading major league talent, because of the weak minor league system. Sure, it’s easy to say the Red Sox could use an upgrade at catcher, but Alex Cora and the pitching staff are comfortable with the catching duo of Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon, and starting pitching is the strength of the Red Sox, so why fix what isn’t broken? The pitchers obviously trust Vazquez and Leon, so the team can live with their struggles at the plate, as long as the lineup stays productive like it has so far through the season.

Photo Credit: Federal Baseball

My Projected 25-Man Roster for what this team will look like after the deadline.

The Lineup:
RF Mookie Betts
LF Andrew Benintendi
DH J.D. Martinez
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Xander Bogaerts
3B Rafael Devers
2B Eduardo Nuñez
C Christian Vazquez
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Starting Rotation:
1. Chris Sale
2. David Price
3. Rick Porcello
4. Eduardo Rodriguez
5. Steven Wright

The Bullpen:
RHP Craig Kimbrel
RHP Joe Kelly
RHP Kyle Barraclough
RHP Matt Barnes
RHP Tyler Thornburg
LHP Drew Pomeranz
LHP Brian Johnson

The Bench:
UTL Brock Holt
UTL Jed Lowrie
C Sandy Leon
2B/OF Whit Merrifield

The roster is fine right now, but we will see what changes are made at the end of the deadline. The Red Sox hope to make it past the first round this year, and return to the World Series for the first time since 2013. We know that for in order for them to do so, Dave Dombrowski will need to make an impactful acquisition on top of players already on the team playing like they’re capable of. The Red Sox are in first place, and are up half a game up over the New York Yankees, who are better than them on paper, so nothing is going to get easier to say the least. The Red Sox seem set to make the playoffs, but we will see what happens when they actually get there. Will it be an achievement and a long run in October, or will it be the same old failure of getting eliminated in the first round? Only time will tell.

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