The Red Sox, as you might have heard, have a few holes to fill on their roster. They could use an everyday left fielder. They need a better bench. They could use some relief help, thanks to the Carson Smith injury. And they really, really need starting pitching. Dear god do they need starting pitching.
There’s been a bit of a notion as of late that the Red Sox are a doomed team beyond repair. It’s easy to feel that way after a rough June, but at the end of the day this team is 42-36, tied for second place in the AL East and for first in the Wild Card hunt. They are competitive, and while they have some work to do when it comes to roster construction, they also have a roster that oozes with talent at the top.
With all this understood, the BP Boston staff was picked to identify one area the Red Sox can and should improve in the coming weeks. The idea here isn’t to find the best-case solution — no trades for Jose Fernandez will follow — but rather to find the move that hits the sweet spot between improving the 2016 team, improving the team core and not mortgaging the future. Indeed, instead of asking “what will help the Red Sox most,” we’re more asking “what’s the one smartest move the Red Sox can make,” or “what’s the one area the team should focus on?”
Our answers are as follow:
Trade for Rich Hill
Pitching is hard – just ask any Red Sox starter. The pitching staff has had a month they’d like to forget, and right now, the Sox have roughly two starters that you know what you’ll be getting in every start. Thing is, the Red Sox don’t need another ace, but they do need a competent, mid-rotation pitcher. The A’s have Rich Hill. He checks off every box on the Good Pitcher Checklist – strikeouts, grounders, decent-but-not-stellar peripherals – and he shouldn’t cost you any of the Moncada/Benintendi/Devers/Espinoza prospects. Let David Price sort himself out, have Steven Wright keep doing whatever it is he’s doing, and enjoy the Rick Porcello renaissance. Add Hill to that mix, and you’ve got a rotation again. – Brett Cowett
Trade for Sean Doolittle
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m writing about the need for Boston to improve their group of left-handed relievers. I know, they’d be better served to shore up the rotation and get something slightly better than a warm body to play left field, and I have little doubt they’ll go down that route. They also need some help in the bullpen, and Sean Doolittle kills two birds with one stone. The back-end of the relief corps isn’t a disaster — Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are still quite good, just prone to blow-up outings — but it could use some help. The left-handed duo of Tommy Layne isn’t a disaster, but it could use some help. Doolittle gives them a lefty who is just a couple years removed from being one of the elite relievers in the game, who is also pitching extremely well in his return season. Even better, he’s locked up to a team-friendly deal through 2020, making this a long-term fix. Obviously, they shouldn’t empty the farm system to fix this area with the other issues on the roster, but if the price is right, Doolittle would make a huge impact on this Red Sox team. – Matt Collins
Trade for Julio Teheran
I get the arguments against Teheran. He’s a fly-ball pitcher. He’s coming from the National League. His FIP suggests he’s more of a mid-to-back-end starter, while his ERA says he’s a front-line guy. There are better fits for Fenway Park. All true. But Teheran is also just 25 years old, has a career 3.41 DRA, is under control for two more seasons beyond 2016 and has proven himself capable of logging 200-plus innings consistently. Is he an ace? No. But he’s a reliable mid-rotation asset with upside, and he’s not just a short-term fix. If Teheran is wildly expensive, move on. Yoan Moncada is close to untouchable for me, it makes no sense to sell low on Blake Swihart and Andrew Bentintendi is so close to being a contributor that I understand a reluctance to move him as well. But if the Braves are ok with centering a package around Rafael Devers or Anderson Espinoza with some secondary prospects included, I pull the trigger. Teheran isn’t the sexiest option, but he represents exactly what the Red Sox lack — decent, cost-controlled young pitching. That’s worth paying for in propsects. – Ben Carsley
Trade for a Reliever, Convert Joe Kelly
This team is not one addition away from being fixed and giving up a substantial package of prospects in a blockbuster trade for a starting pitcher or left fielder hurts the future too much. Players like Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada are not far from contributing at the major league level so keeping them is the better plan. Current holes in left field and catcher will be smaller holes when Brock Holt, Ryan Hanigan, and even Chris Young return, which should be soon. All things considered, I think the Red Sox should look to acquire a reliever or two (e.g., Brad Ziegler, Jeremy Jeffress). They will be cheaper than a starter and address a developing problem. Koji Uehara is 41 years old and probably done as a high leverage guy. Junichi Tazawa could be headed for another second half swoon due to overuse in the first half. The relief group needs to be shored up so that every lead is protected and in the case of a(nother) starter-induced deficit the offense has multiple innings to chip away without things getting worse. Get a solid major league reliever, add Joe Kelly into the bullpen mix and hope one of the many #4/5 starters already in the organization can figure himself out. – Chris Teeter