By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Red Sox have the best record in baseball and are 38 games over .500 for the first time since 1949, but even the most positive Red Sox fans probably wouldn’t deny that the team has some flaws that need to be addressed at the July 31 trading deadline.
To date, much of the Red Sox rumored trade deadline activity has revolved around relief pitchers. Whether or not Eduardo Rodriguez’s ankle injury forces President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski to pivot his attention to starting pitchers remains to be seen.
Dombrowski will likely have to do his shopping in the middle of the market due to the limited resources the team has to work with in its poor farm system. With zero prospects remaining in the Baseball America Top 100, expect the Sox to not be able to compete for many of the big name players that could move between now and the deadline.
Here are some of the players the Red Sox have been linked to this trade season:
Jon Heyman reported the Red Sox have been scouting Britton in recent weeks.
The once-dominant lefty returned in the middle of this season from an Achilles injury and has yet to fully regain his pre-injury form.
Britton is also a free agent at the end of the season, something the Red Sox might like to avoid with Craig Kimbrel also set to hit the market.
The competition looks tough at this point, with the Astros, Yankees, Cubs, and Phillies all rumored to be in on a potential trade for the lefty.
Also, Britton is owed roughly $5 million between now and the end of the season, a significant number if the Red Sox hope to stay under the $237 million luxury tax threshold.
Christopher Smith of Mass Live reported in February that the Red Sox tax figure hit around $232 million after the J.D. Martinez signing. The team has since taken on about $1.5 million in the trade for Steve Pearce.
If the Sox exceeded $237 million, they would see their first draft pick next year fall 10 slots and would pay a higher tax.
Jon Paul Morosi reported earlier this month that the Red Sox had called the Padres about Hand, one of the best closers in the National League.
Hand is under team control for multiple years and would likely command a high price from any team interested in making a trade for the lefty.
Morosi reported that San Diego’s asking price was Rafael Devers. If true, that likely takes the Red Sox out of the running. (UPDATE: The Indians have acquired Hand and Adam Cimber from the San Diego Padres.)
The 28-year-old Barraclough is in the middle of a career year, sporting a 1.28 ERA (six earned runs in 40 innings) for the Marlins. The righty has nine saves in 2018.
Multiple reports have indicated the Red Sox could have interest in Barraclough, who has not yet hit arbitration and is under team control for the next three-plus years.
The Red Sox could certainly use more left-handed options out of the bullpen, and Conley, a converted starter, has pitched well in his first full season in relief for the Marlins. He has given up just 12 hits while walking nine in 25 innings of work (2.88 ERA).
Morosi reported at the beginning of the month that the Red Sox reached out to the Marlins about Conley, along with Barraclough and a number of Miami’s bullpen arms.
The 28-year-old has yet to hit arbitration and would be under team control until 2021. He represents a low-cost option for the Red Sox and may not have reached his ceiling as a reliever yet.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Red Sox have expressed interest in Familia, the Mets closer and soon-to-be free agent.
Given that Familia is a rental, he could be an affordable option to teams at the deadline, making him an attractive piece to the prospect-strapped Red Sox.
The Sox and the Mets made a similar deal last year, when Boston acquired then-Mets closer Addison Reed for three low-level prospects.
Familia, a talented but often adventurous right-hander, has struck out 43 batters in 40 1/3 innings this year. He has 17 saves and a 2.88 ERA. Familia has four blown saves in 40 appearances this year. He was charged with three blown saves in the 2015 World Series.
The Giants and Phillies are also said to be interested, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the Red Sox have talked to the Twins about the 41-year-old Rodney.
The 16-year veteran has 21 saves for Minnesota and has a 3.12 ERA. He has struck out 39 batters in 34 2/3 innings.
The acquisition cost would likely be minimal, making Rodney a potential fit for Boston.
Rodney broke in to the big leagues with Detroit in 2002 and played for the Tigers until 2009, making him a familiar pitcher to Dombrowski, who spent more than a decade in charge of Detroit’s baseball operations.
According to Crasnick, the Red Sox, the Braves, and the Yankees have interest in Moustakas.
Moustakas, who will likely become a free agent at the end of the season, is batting .249 with 19 home runs this season for the lowly Royals.
It’s unclear how Moustakas would fit the Red Sox plans for the 2018 season. Rafael Devers (.241 batting average, 14 home runs) has had a disappointing sophomore campaign, but it would be surprising if the team wanted to move on from the 21-year-old in favor of an impending free agent.
It’s unknown what the Red Sox would be able to offer Kansas City for the 29-year-old power hitter. The Yankees and the Braves would seem to have a bigger need and could seemingly outbid the Red Sox, if necessary.
Heyman reported last week the Red Sox have been connected to the 29-year-old Merrifield.
Merrifield makes sense in a number of ways for the Red Sox. He is cost-controlled and does not hit his arbitration years until 2020. A second baseman by trade, he is versatile and has played everywhere in the infield and outfield in his big league career, except shortstop.
With Dustin Pedroia’s status in question for not only this year, but for the remaining three years of his contract, Merrifield fits the profile of a player the Red Sox might have to look at as a high-quality insurance policy.
It remains to be seen if the Royals, who are on pace for one of the worst seasons in baseball history and appear to be heading toward a lengthy rebuild, have any interest in fielding offers for Merrifield, who isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2022 season.
Other names to watch:
LHP Jake Diekman (Rangers), LHP
Zach Duke (Twins), RHP Adam Ottavino (Rockies), RHP Brad Brach (Orioles), LHP Aaron Loup (Blue Jays), LHP Jerry Blevins (Mets).
Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard:
The Red Sox will not acquire either of them. Carry on.