Boston Red Sox

Oct 15, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) and Rafael Devers and designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) look on before game one of the 2021 ALCS against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

  • A week away from the 2022 MLB trade deadline, Chaim Bloom and the Boston Red Sox have to decide if they’re going to buy or sell. For the Red Sox, who have slumped (and slumped hard) of late, it may make all the sense in the world to sell. But with the team still within striking distance in the wild card race and the uncertain future of Xander Bogaerts certainly on the mind of everybody inside Fenway, it’s a legitimate debate, to say the least.

    But maybe … just maybe … they could do both?

    And that just may be their plan, as outlined by ESPN’s Buster Olney.

    “What I’m hearing from other teams is that they think the Red Sox will at least be partial sellers,” Olney said during an ESPN hit. “Now they’re kind of in a weird place. They’re among four teams vying for the last Wild Card spot, but you’ve seen in recent days they have really struggled.”

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 14: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox watches his solo home run in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on June 14, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 14: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox watches his solo home run in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on June 14, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Elsa/Getty Images)

    The top name among Bloom’s & Co. in their potential ‘partial seller’ mode? J.D. Martinez.

    “A guy that other teams say is available is designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who’s in his last year of his contract with the Red Sox,” Olney revealed. “The Red Sox could flip J.D. Martinez, maybe hang on to Bogaerts if they feel like they have a shot to make the playoffs, and replace Martinez with another designated hitter.”

    Currently in his fifth season with Boston, Martinez has posted a .302 batting average and .849 OPS, and has slugged nine homers and 38 RBIs, along with a team-leading 30 doubles. The 34-year-old Martinez was also one of three Sox hitters selected to represent the American League in last week’s 2022 All-Star Game.

    Martinez has not played since the All-Star Game, however, as he has been dealing with a back issue. (Conspiracy theorists are gonna wonder if that’s the ol’ trade deadline back injury, I know, but it is worth mentioning that Martinez has had a history of back ailments with the Red Sox and that he’s expected back in action Tuesday.)

    Martinez, who was signed to a five-year, $110 million contract back in 2018, has been a four-time All-Star during his Boston tenure, and has hit .297 with 123 homers and 399 RBIs in 579 games with the club.

    It would be interesting to see just where the Red Sox would prefer to trade Martinez if they do make the call to get something in exchange for the pending free agent while they still can. Namely as it relates to their own desires to both buy and sell, because the Seattle Mariners are certainly a team that could use a hitter like Martinez. But the Mariners, of course, are one of the teams Boston is chasing down in the wild card race.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 14: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates the win over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on June 14, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts The Boston Red Sox defeated the Oakland Athletics 6-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 14: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates the win over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on June 14, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Elsa/Getty Images)

    Another key point from Olney’s interview is that it doesn’t sound like the Red Sox are all that interested in trading Bogaerts ahead of next week’s deadline. If anything, they’d want to keep Bogaerts in the event that they do remain in the hunt — and ultimately make a stronger push — for a postseason berth.

    Olney’s inkling has been backup by multiple sources, too, both from inside and outside the organization.

    “Rival executives anticipate that even if Boston unloads a half-dozen players, Bogaerts, the star 29-year-old shortstop, won’t be among them, even though he’s set to hit free agency this winter,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote.

    And across town, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy told the rival morning show that they have not talked about trading Xander Bogaerts (or Rafael Devers) ahead of next week’s deadline.

    Bogaerts, who will be a free agent this winter, is hitting .312 with seven homers and 38 RBIs this season.

  • Jul 11, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a run in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 11, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a run in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)

    But a key piece who could fetch a strong return and certainly makes sense if the Red Sox are indeed a ‘partial seller’ team by this next week is catcher Christian Vazquez.

    One of the league’s better hitting catchers in 2022 with a .277 average (third-best among all catchers with at least 160 at-bats in 2022), Vazquez also ranks fourth among catchers in doubles (18), and his 39 RBIs are tied with the Twins’ Gary Sanchez for the fifth-most in MLB catchers. Vazquez has also been strong defensively, with 15 players caught stealing with Vazquez behind the plate, which is the third-most in the league.

    And Vazquez is also staring down free agency, and is set up for a massive payday. Are the Red Sox going to be the team to hand out that payday? If not, it may make sense to sell high. Vazquez could also have appeal to any team that fails to meet the asking price to acquire catcher Willson Contreras from the Cubs.

  • Jul 15, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) pitches against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 15, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) pitches against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

    On the mound, Nathan Eovaldi is another player whose Boston future is completely unknown.

    A pending free agent, Eovaldi enters deadline week with a 4-3 record and 4.30 ERA in 14 starts this season. The hard-throwing righty, who has been a postseason bright spot for the club throughout his time here, has also recorded 79 strikeouts in 75.1 innings of 2022 work.

    Eovaldi’s Boston future likely comes down to how the market shakes out in terms of starters, and whether or not the Red Sox feel they could still contend for a postseason spot if you take Eovaldi out of this rotation. (Especially with Chris Sale out until September, and with Michael Wacha and Rich Hill still on the shelf.)

    But if you’re a 2022 team looking to go from potential contender to legitimate contender, Eovaldi’s postseason resume is certainly worth the trade.

  • Jul 3, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Jake Diekman (31) pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the eleventh inning at Wrigley Field. (David Banks/USA TODAY Sports)

    Every contender needs relievers, and there could be a solid market for Red Sox lefty Jake Diekman.

    Deployed 41 times in 2022, Diekman is tied for the 25th-most holds in baseball this year, with 12. The 35-year-old Diekman, who signed through next year and has a club option for 2024, has compiled a 4-1 record and struck out 47 in 35.2 innings of work for the Red Sox this season.

  • Jul 25, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Rob Refsnyder (30) rounds the bases and scores a run on an RBI double hit against the Cleveland Guardians. (Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Red Sox aren’t going to rebuild their entire system with a Rob Refsnyder trade, as we all know.

    But this could be a move where the Sox simply sell high on a player who doesn’t fit their long-term plans. (After all, those ‘long-term plans’ have been the theme of everything the Red Sox have done and haven’t done.)

    Another pending free agent, the 31-year-old Refsnyder is hitting a career-high .322 through 31 games with Boston this year, and has also established career-best marks in on-base percentage (.396), slugging percentage (.529), OPS (.925), home runs (four), and RBIs (12). It’s a small sample size, of course, but that also may be exactly what it’s in the team’s best interest to sell on Refsnyder while they still can.

  • Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernandez (5) hits a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Enrique Hernandez (5) hits a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning in Game 2 of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

    Some other notable pending free agents who could be on the move if the Red Sox choose to selectively sell include catcher Kevin Plawecki, utility man Kiké Hernandez, and pitchers Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, and Matt Strahm.

    Now, the problem for the Sox within that is that Plawecki is the only player out of that group who is healthy.

    The Red Sox could very well simply choose to sell elsewhere and then welcome those injured players back to their lineup and look at them as their deadline additions. There’s a legitimate case to be made (and whether we like it or not) that adding players of that talent level could be looked at as the team’s post-deadline ‘buying’ moves in the sense that they are indeed roster upgrades and are upgrades that do not come at the expense of the system.