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  • Trade Deadline Preview: The Boston Red Sox


    David Youngs

    Projected to finish below the Yankees and Rays, the Red Sox have shone with flying colors so far in 2021. Boston is all-in on a deep playoff run. What additional tools will they add, and are any a fit with the Twins?

    Image courtesy of Brock Beauchamp, Twins Daily

    What’s Their Situation?

    Coming off a 2020 season in the cellar of the AL East, the Red Sox have been one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball so far in 2021. After two playoff-less seasons, the BoSox sit atop the East with a 62-39 record, tied with White Sox for the best record in the American League.  

    It’s no secret that the AL East has always been a powerhouse with money, talent, and results. 2021 is no different. The Rays are only a game and a half back from Boston, and the Yankees have gained some steam as of recent, although a gut-wrenching loss to the Sox on Sunday put a dagger in that. 

    The Red Sox have held their own thus far against their division rivals, going 4-2 against the Rays in the first half and 7-2 against the Bronx Bombers. That says something but the Sox will have to continue their division dominance in the second half as they play a combined 21 games against the Rays and Yankees. 

    Could the Yankees continue their hot streak and run the table on the division? Sure. But if we’re honest, the East will most likely come down to the Sox and the Rays. Given the lack of performance in the AL Central, it’s probable that two teams from the East will make the playoffs if things continue the way they stand as of current. Yet few venues provide home-field advantage like Fenway, and it’s safe to say that this squad will be gunning for a division title. 

     

    What Do They Need?

    Similar to the Twins, the Red Sox have the gift of versatility on the field. An infielder by trade, Enrique 'Kiké' Hernández has been a staple of the Boston outfield this year. Former Twins Marwin Gonzales and Danny Santana have also contributed at a number of positions. Yet while versatility is a strength, stability is a gift. One that the Red Sox don’t have at first base. 

    Rookie Bobby Dalbec is nothing short of a fun story but has struggled to contribute at the plate, slashing .217/.259/.402. The Sox rank 28th in the league at the position in batting average (.204) and are dead last for OPS (.204).

    That ain’t gonna cut it for a team with a .257 batting average, fifth-best in the entire league. 

    On the other side of the ball, Boston’s starting pitching staff is solid, but the team doesn’t really have an ace. That will likely change when Chris Sale rejoins the team from the Injured List, but who knows how long it will take him to get up to speed. Nathan Eovaldi leads the staff with a 9-5 record and 3.57 ERA, yet the team has an average ERA of 4.10, sandwiched at 14th in the league. It’s unlikely that Boston will gun for a true ace given Sale’s return, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another quality arm for depth.

    And like any other team, you can never have enough relief pitching. Closer Matt Barnes is an all-star caliber pitcher, but reinforcements are valuable, especially in the postseason. 

     

    Which Twins Are the Best Fit?

    José Berríos and Michael Pineda are two very different pitchers but could both be potential fits for the Sox depending on what direction Chaim Boom’s front office wants to go. If the Sox are looking for a less expensive four/five starter, they could certainly go for Pineda. 

    Big Mike has fallen short of expectations so far in 2021, primarily as of recent. He’s 1-3 in his last five starts and has a season ERA of 3.98. That isn’t horrific by any means, but Pineda has struggled to go deep in games and hasn’t mirrored his dominant 2019 and 2020 self. Still, it’s evident that Pineda has value, and perhaps he’d thrive in an environment as a lower leverage starter versus being a “Big Three” guy in Minnesota. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s got a strong background in the AL East, pitching for the Yankees from 2014-17.

    On the other hand, if Boom and the Sox want to make starting pitching their deadline priority, they could gun for Berríos. Jose may not have the street cred of Sale, but he would almost certainly be a top-two starter for the Red Sox. There are two angles that this trade could go: The Sox could trade for Berríos because they aren’t confident that Sale will return to his dominant self, or they could trade for him because they are confident in Sale and adding Berríos would create one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball. 

    Taylor Rogers also fits as a potential trade target for the Red Sox. Bullpen staples Matt Barnes and Adam Ottovino will become free agents in 2022, and it’s unlikely both will stay in Boston. Rogers would not only be an excellent 2021 addition to the Boston pen but a potential long-term weapon if he chooses to sign a multi-year contract. 

    It’s doubtful that the Twins would trade a young stud like Alex Kirilloff to help fill Boston’s first base void. And given his poor 2021 showing and influx of streakiness, Boston will almost certainly stay away from Miguel Sano.

    Bottom line? If the Red Sox snag anyone from the Twins, it’s going to be pitching. 

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    Who Could The Twins Get Back?

    The Red Sox have the #24 ranked farm system in the league. Don’t let that fool you. While many of their top prospects are young, the organization has made several solid moves and acquisitions over the past few years that could be big for the franchise’s future.

    Triston Casas, 1B, 21 years old – The power-hitting big man is Boston’s top prospect and was ranked #44 in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect Rankings. Casas could potentially fill a hole at first if Miguel Sano continues to decline. The move would also allow Alex Kirilloff to live predominantly in the outfield, his position by trade. Casas is in AA Portland right now for the Sox and is the crowned jewel of the Boston farm. The Twins’ only chance of securing him would be if they were to give up Berrios. 

    Bryan Mata, RHP, 22 years old – Ranked #4 on Boston’s Top 30 Prospect List, Mata could add to a list of potential rock-solid pitchers in the Twins’ farm. With a two-seamer that ranges from 93-97 MPH and a four-seamer that touches triple digits, Mata is known as a ground ball, contact pitcher more than a strikeout guy. He’s run into injuries, but the upside is up there. 

     

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