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The Boston Red Sox are a lock to be deadline sellers. At 9-20, the third worst record in all of baseball, the expectation is that Chaim Bloom will do his best to restock a bare cupboard.
The good news for him is that excluding the current division leaders there are six teams within four games of first in both the American League and the National League, which means, potentially every team save for a handful are buyers.
What Players Could Be Traded? And to Where?
J.D. Martinez: The slugger opted into his contract that extended him through 2022 and so his value is not tied to simply being a rental. Also, despite just turning 33, he is still a desirable player. He has averaged a slash of 310/387/578 during his two-plus years in Boston. The downside is that he is a defensive liability, even if you try to stick him in right field and hide it, limiting his suitors to the American League — even though the NL has a designated hitter this year.
The Phillies could make a play for him if they want to reshape the outfield a little — and it may not be a bad idea with Andrew McCutchen looking like there isn’t much in the tank — but this isn’t a good fit. Our prediction is that the Chicago White Sox make a run here. Yes, the team has Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion for its DH spot, and it also placed a bet on Nomar Mazara to actually break through this year as a right fielder with potential. Two of those three have been terrible. Encarnacion, is a notoriously slow starter, but this year he is hitting .159. Mazara has torn the cover off the ball over the last week to push his batting average to .245 — which shows how bad he was to start the year — and he still only has three RBI. Encarnacion is on a one-year deal, with an option for next year, and the White Sox can call this a sunk cost and add Martinez.
The team also has the parts in the farm system to make the deal happen. Getting the next two years with Martinez means the Red Sox should expect a pretty solid package in return, though a lot of that will be determined on what happens with the money. If they land MLB-ready pitcher Dane Dunning and a close but injury prone player, Miker Adolfo, with a mid-level prospect like Luis Gonzalez or Blake Rutherford, and/or a flier on a young player like shortstop Lenyn Sosa that would be an outstanding haul. If the Red Sox don’t take on payroll, Adolfo is out.
Mitch Moreland: The steady but unspectacular Moreland is about to turn 35, but would still be an asset for several teams. He isn’t a deficient fielder and has started 13 games at first base this season and on his one-year deal, with an option for next year, he could be dealt to any team in either league. He is an 11-year veteran and is a regular for 20-homers with a .255-ish batting average.
Where he fits best, in our opinion, would be in Colorado. The Rockies have battled the injury bug but are still floating around .500 and in contention. Colorado has been using Matt Kemp as its DH, which has resulted in a paltry .233 average. Bringing in Moreland can add flexibility to the lineup as well as in the field with being able to rest Daniel Murphy, keep floating Ryan McMahon around the diamond, and getting rid of Kemp — who can only DH, if that is what we call it.
The Rockies do not have a deep farm system and so the Red Sox would likely be looking at either a flier prospect, perhaps 17-year old shortstop Adeal Amador, or a post-hyped player that the Rockies may have soured on, like Tyler Nevin. International signing money could also get this deal done, if the Red Sox are planning on not picking up Moreland’s deal.
Jackie Bradley, Jr: At this point he is what he is: a glove-first, limited bat (except 2016) option for manning center field. It still makes Bradley an interesting target for some teams. Bradley is only on a one-year deal, and so he could theoretically go anywhere with a known skillset. He is currently “hitting” .235 which is in line with his career .236 average, so teams know what they are getting — Gold Glove potential, hitting 9th.
There is speculation that a trade to Toronto could happen as the Blue Jays lack depth in the outfield, especially with Derek Fisher being hurt, but the Jays may prefer another Red Sox player, Kevin Pillar, to return to the organization due to a familiarity factor. It leads us to believe the right spot to target for Bradley is the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew had high hopes coming into the season but sit 5.5 games out of first in the NL Central and Christian Yelich has been dreadful. The team also lost Lorenzo Cain to an opt out.
Milwaukee slid Avasail Garcia into center, a position he is miscast in, and have been trotting Ben Gamel out in right field. Those two are hitting actually worse than Bradley! Garcia is at a .227 mark, while Gamel is at .185 and owns a 28:3 strikeout to walk ratio. Ryan Braun is still on the roster, hitting barely about .200 and being a liability on defense. If the Brewers believe a turnaround is coming, it would make sense to get Garcia in Right, Bradley in Center and figure out the DH.
Milwaukee has a unique farm system where it is loaded up with catchers, so the Red Sox could easily target one of them and Milwaukee would consider it moving from a position of strength, so Jefferson Quero (18) or Xavier Warren (21) are both young and in the middle of the pack of the farm system targets. Discussing a player like outfielder Carlos Rodriguez could also happen. If the Red Sox want something better — like Corey Ray, a player the Brewers seem to have given up on or they would have called him up — it may have to eat the cost of Bradley.
If the Red Sox wanted to get crazy with the rebuild the team could look to unload Xander Bogaerts. That is very unlikely to happen at this deadline, so don’t expect it!