BOSTON (CBS) — After another embarrassing stretch of baseball in which they’ve lost 12 of their last 17 games, the Boston Red Sox currently sit dead last in the AL East.
Just a few weeks ago the discussion was if the Red Sox will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. With two Wild Card spots in play, not many teams are out of the running for a postseason berth and all it would take is a long winning streak to turn the season around for the defending champs.
But those weeks have come and gone, and the Red Sox have done just one thing consistently: Lose baseball games. They suffered their ninth shutout of the season on Monday night, and with the trade deadline approaching quickly and the Red Sox all but out of the playoff race, the “buyers or sellers” decision looks like a pretty simply one for Ben Cherington and company.
Selling would clear the way for some of their young prospects to get some MLB experience, and the Sox may even be able to get a good prospect or two in return depending on who they ship out of town. If it comes to that, here are 10 players who could be dealt by 4 p.m. on July 31.
Uehara is doing what Uehara did best in 2013 — hurling 1-2-3 ninth innings. The only problem is the Red Sox haven’t led many games come the ninth inning recently, so Uehara hasn’t been locking down saves at the same pace he did at the end last season.
The 39-year-old still has 18 saves in 19 opportunities for the season, good for fifth in the American League, and has a 1.30 ERA to go with a minuscule 0.74 WHIP. Uehara will be a free agent after this season, and would be a perfect rental for a team looking to spruce up their bullpen — or in need of an actual closer. If they choose to sell on Koji, the Red Sox could get a decent return.
That would leave the Red Sox without a closer, but with Uehara turning 40 in the off-season, there’s a chance they would be looking for a new man for the job next season. Moving Uehara may let Boston try young fireballer Rubby De La Rosa at closer, and determine if he’s the man for the job in the future.
A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross
Pierzynski has become a scapegoat for Boston’s struggles, with many fans frustrated by his “swing-at-everything” approach at the plate and less-than-shining attitude in the clubhouse. Ross is a consummate professional and teams in need of a veteran backstop for a playoff push could use his veteran savvy behind the plate, just like the Red Sox used him in the final games of the World Series when Jarrod Saltalamacchia forgot how to play baseball.
Neither will likely net much on the market, but even one departing could open the door for Christian Vasquez to get a taste of the majors. The 23-year-old prospect is hitting .279 for Triple-A Pawtucket and is said to be MLB-ready when it comes to his defense behind the plate.
Peavy could be an intriguing add for a National League team in need of pitching depth. With a 1-7 record and a 4.64 ERA, Peavy probably won’t get much for Boston in return, but moving him makes way for younger guys like Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranuado to take a turn in the rotation.
He’s more likely a candidate to get DFA’d, but a team in need of a “great clubhouse guy” and some awesome WAR stats (from last season) could make a call on Gomes and his .234 batting average.
The lefty reliever was incredible for the Red Sox in 2013, until he couldn’t figure out how to throw to third base in the postseason. He started the 2014 season on the DL and has had an up-and-down year since being activated, allowing 35 hits and 17 earned runs (20 total runs) over 30.1 innings (31 appearances). Last season, Breslow allowed just 12 earned runs in his 61 appearances out of the pen.
But lefty relievers are hard to come by, and if a playoff team is looking for a southpaw for their postseason run, Breslow could be an intriguing option.
He’s making a lot of money, but the Red Sox might be willing to eat the majority of it (if not all of it) if it means Xander Bogaerts can return to his natural position for the rest of the year. Drew is batting just .136 in his 23 games back with Boston.
The Red Sox might not be ready to give up on Middlebrooks, who is rehabbing his way back from a fractured finger in Pawtucket, but if an offer comes along, they may move on from the slugger. He’s hit just .248 with 34 homers and 112 RBIs in 190 games in the big leagues, and if the team believes Garin Cecchini is their man for the hot corner in the future, Middlebrooks could find a fresh start somewhere else.
Lackey is an intriguing trade option because he’s pitching well, 9-6 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, and will be cheap next season should he decide to pitch on that league-minimum option. But he’s also hinted that there’s no way he pitches for that amount, so dealing him would pass that potential headache onto another team.
If the Red Sox want to get something in return for one of their better pitchers this season, Lackey could be the arm they look to deal. Unless they want to make a big splash…
This is the big one. Lester is heading into free agency this off-season, and said recently that he wants to shelve extension talks with the Red Sox until after the season. Boston low-balled him with a four-year, $70 million offer earlier this season, and he wants to focus on his job on the mound instead of deal with that headache.
There are little questions about what Lester can do whenever he takes the hill; he’s a bulldog that eats innings and can win the big game. While he’s just 9-7 on the season, his 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP are career-bests.
Because of all of that, someone may come calling with a hefty offer for the southpaw. The Red Sox have plenty of young arms in the minors to fill out a rotation this season, so if the Cherington doesn’t think he can sign Lester in the off-season, he’ll have to seriously consider moving his ace in the next few weeks if the right bounty comes along.
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