The trade deadline isn’t for nearly two months. But it is already apparent what the Boston Red Sox should be looking for when the time does, in fact, arise. It is possible they go for the upgrades before then. But here is what they absolutely need in order to stay relevant:
No. 5 Starting Pitcher
Before the season, pitching was their biggest question mark. Two months into the season, despite being tied for first place, it remains their biggest question mark. The bats have been unreal so far. But Clay Buchholz? Joe Kelly? Henry Owens? Who can be their fifth starting pitcher?
William Cuevas has been solid in Pawtucket. But they will need to go out and grab another starter. They will be going with a four-man rotation for at least the next couple weeks. So at least that gives them some time to figure this mess out.
Lefties coming out of the pen tend to be paid a lot of money and for good reason too: they’re valuable. The Sox have Robbie Ross Jr., who they can depend on. But lefty specialist Tommy Layne has been rather ineffective this season.
Oddly enough, he cracked the Opening Day roster because he was out of options so it was either that or DFAing him. Well, lefties have a .400 on-base percentage and an .814 OPS against him in 36 plate appearances this season. Wait? What was that other option again?
Anthony Varvaro, a righty with some real funky splits, could be an upgrade. Some may remember him for his brief tenure with the 2015 Red Sox.
He’s coming off surgery. So he was kind of the dark horse candidate for the left-handed specialist job this spring.
Juicy J spits some fire in this.
Well, lefties are hitting .138 off Varvaro in Pawtucket. And he has thrown five straight scoreless outings. Maybe he’s worth giving another chance.
And if not, then the Sox can go after an actual lefty reliever.
Depth among position players
Look at the PawSox lineup. Is there anyone there who, realistically, could come up and play every day for the Red Sox? No. Josh Rutledge and Marco Hernandez were the two depth pieces to start the season and they are up with the team already.
Sam Travis is out for the season with a torn ACL and Deven Marrero flat out isn’t hitting. If anyone else on the Sox hits the disabled list before Brock Holt returns, it could be trouble.
Yes. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift in the same article. You’re welcome.
Versatility definitely makes depth less of an issue. But when versatile players go down, depth is crushed that much more.
It would be tough to point out depth players the team could target. But they’re out there.
A spot for Heath Hembree
Let’s be real: Heath Hembree is not a minor leaguer. Yes, he’s on the PawSox. But should he be? No. It doesn’t speak to the depth of the team when the Sox have let up 30 runs in the past three games. Make a move to give Hembree a spot in the bigs. He owns a 2.14 ERA in 12 games and he throws whenever he’s asked.
He was also mad when he was sent down and he showed it. A player with a pulse. That’s always nice.
A real left fielder
No offense to Blake Swihart and Brock Holt. They are doing exactly what they are asked. But it is amazing that the Red Sox have one of the best hitting teams in baseball and their second-weakest spot at the plate this season has been left field. Left field has been a problem for the Sox for awhile now. Fix it.
Not Ryan Hanigan
If Swihart’s going to be the left fielder, why have three catchers on the roster? Ryan Hanigan has a .499 OPS thus far and a ton of passed balls catching knuckleballer Steven Wright. It’d be an unpopular move, yes. But that’s another roster spot. #Versatility