BOSTON (CBS) — With Major League Baseball’s trade deadline just two weeks away, the rumors are swirling around the Boston Red Sox and a potential fix at third base.
The Boston brass finally determined last week that they’d be better off paying Pablo Sandoval the nearly $50 million he’s owed to not play baseball for them, rather than continue to be an abyss at the hot corner. But that still leaves them with a hole at the position, and it’s one they’ll likely address in the coming weeks.
Deven Marrero and Brock Holt (who came off the DL over the weekend) currently top the depth chart at third, with Tzu-Wei Lin (optioned to Triple-A on Sunday night) another option down on the farm. Of course, there’s always that temptation of calling up top prospect Rafael Devers as well, but it’s much more likely that Dave Dombrowski goes out and finds a third baseman on the trade market, someone who can fill the void the rest of the season while Devers puts in his work at the Triple-A level.
At least, that should be his plan. But we never know with Dealin’ Dave, which is a terrifying prospect for Boston fans. There’s no reason to trade for a guy like Martin Prado, an 11-year veteran who carries a price tag of $28.5 million over the next two seasons, or to go even bigger pull off a blockbuster for an aging Miguel Cabrera, but those are the fears that will haunt Red Sox Nation until the clock hits 4 p.m. on July 31.
The smart move would be to buy low on a three-month rental that won’t keep the Devers train from pulling into the station in the near future, so here are some options for the Red Sox if they want to find an immediate, and temporary, fix at third base at the deadline:
2017 Season Stats: .207 BA/.318 OBP/.432 SLG, 16 HR, 44 RBI in 81 GP
Career Stats: .247/.318/.461, 164 HR, 466 RBI in 872 GP
The 31-year-old makes the most sense for the Red Sox, and the team is reportedly working towards a swap with the White Sox. Frazier is having a down year after clubbing 40 homers last season, but he could provide the pop that Boston has been lacking at third base. He has been hitting the ball much better as of late and a change of scenery could spark a strong second half from the veteran, especially if that change of scenery includes a giant wall in left field for the pull hitter to take aim at.
Frazier is set to be a free agent at the end of the season, so he would likely come at a relatively low cost and wouldn’t be a roadblock for Devers in the coming years.
UPDATE: The Yankees swooped in and acquired Frazier, along with two relievers, in a seven-player trade with the White Sox on Tuesday.
2017 Season Stats: .268/.349/.425, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 28 R in 71 GP
Career Stats: .271/.334/.420, 49 HR, 222 RBI, 202 R in 463 GP
After a slow start to the season, Solarte was on an absolute tear in June with a .317/.394/1.061 slash and seven of his 10 homers before a strained right oblique landed him on the disabled list. He’s expected to return at the end of July around the deadline.
The 30-year-old has played most of his games at second base (65) this season but has spent the majority of his career at the hot corner, where he has 27 errors in 670 career chances.
Solarte is a cheap option and would be under team control for three more seasons (with club options for $5.5 million in 2019 and $8 million in 2020), so it would likely take a decent package for Boston to acquire his services.
2017 Season Stats: .272/.339/.455, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 52 R in 87 GP
Career Stats: .258/.328/.405, 77 HR, 200 2B, 409 R in 886 GP
Is there a Boston reunion in the cards for Lowrie?
The 33-year-old can’t run much after a career filled with injuries, and he’s spent most of his time in Oakland this season at second base. But he’s taken care of business with the bat, hitting .272 with a .339 OBP and .794 OPS, and is on pace to club a career-high 18 homers and 48 doubles.
Lowrie has a club option for 2018 at $6 million or a $1 million buyout, so he shouldn’t cost Boston too much on the trade market.
2017 Season Stats: .270/.303/.553, 25 HR, 55 RBI in 81 GP
Career Stats: .250/.303/.421, 106 HR, 349 RBI in 769 GP
The Royals don’t seem interested in trading their two-time All-Star now that they’re back in the race for the AL Central, but if they change their mind ahead of July 31 the Red Sox would be an easy call for Kansas City GM Dayton Moore.
The 28-year-old Moustakas will become a free agent at the end of the season, so he could provide a temporary fix at third base and some added power for the lineup.
2017 Season Stats: .297/.323/.414, 19 2B, 25 RBI, 34 R in 64 GP
Career Stats: .277/.315/.404, 104 2B, 212 RBI, 258 R in 622 GP
Red Sox fans may not be ready to accept another former Giant third baseman joining the Red Sox, but Nunez would provide them with a lot of options in addition to manning the hot corner. The 30-year-old can play third, shortstop and both corner outfield positions, and is only signed through the end of the season.
Nunez was activated from the DL on Friday after missing nearly a month of action with a hamstring injury, and with the Giants sitting with the second-worst record in the NL he could find himself as part of the San Fran’s fire sale at the deadline.