Red Sox Analysis

If Red Sox are trade deadline buyers, here's who they could target

Pitching should be Boston's primary focus if the team plans to buy at the trade deadline.

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The next two weeks will be crucial for the Boston Red Sox as they plan out their trade deadline approach.

Before they took a five-game win streak into the All-Star break, there was enough pessimism surrounding the seemingly mediocre club that we listed the Red Sox players most likely to be sold at the deadline. But suddenly, Boston finds itself back in the postseason conversation with a 48-43 record that puts it only two games back in the American League Wild Card race.

If the Red Sox stay hot after the break, they'll have to strongly consider buying at the deadline in an effort to squeak into the playoffs. If they do, acquiring quality pitching should be their top priotity. The rotation has been an area of concern all season long with Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta being demoted to the bullpen, plus Chris Sale, Tanner Houck, and Garrett Whitlock each battling injuries. Second-year righty Brayan Bello and veteran southpaw James Paxton have been the only consistent options for the club as of late.

So, who are some realistic trade targets for Boston ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline? Here's a list of names to monitor over the next couple of weeks.

Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox

The ask for Giolito may be too high for Chaim Bloom's liking, but it's still worth giving the White Sox a call. Giolito, who turns 29 on Friday, has a 3.45 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with 117 strikeouts through 19 starts (112 1/3 innings) this season. The former All-Star right-hander is scheduled to become a free agent this winter, and the struggling White Sox almost certainly will be among the biggest sellers at the deadline.

Lance Lynn, SP, Chicago White Sox

Lynn is the less appealing but more realistic White Sox trade option. The 36-year-old righty has struggled mightily this season to the tune of a 6.03 ERA in 18 outings (103 innings). Perhaps a change of scenery would be beneficial. After all, he isn't that far removed from his three consecutive top-six Cy Young finishes (2019-21).

Marcus Stroman, SP, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs reportedly are unlikely to sign Stroman to a contract extension before the deadline, which makes the right-hander an obvious trade candidate with Chicago a long shot to make the playoffs. Stroman, 32, is enjoying a spectacular season as the Cubs' ace with a 2.96 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 19 starts (112 2/3 innings). Like Giolito, Stroman would be pricey, but it's worth seeing what it would cost to acquire him.

Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs

Between Hendricks and Stroman, Hendricks would be the more likely option if Boston calls Chicago about a starter. The 33-year-old would be a rental and is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery. He has been effective since returning from injury, posting a 3.04 ERA in nine starts (53 1/3 innings).

Jordan Montgomery, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2023 season and should look to sell some of their most valuable impending free agents. That includes Montgomery, who has been a bright spot for St. Louis this year with his 3.23 ERA in 18 starts (103 innings). The ex-New York Yankees left-hander wouldn't be as costly as Giolito or Stroman and would fit nicely in the Red Sox rotation.

Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

Flaherty isn't the Cy Young candidate he once was, but he could still be a solid deadline addition for teams in need of pitching help. The 27-year-old righty would also be cheaper than his teammate Montgomery. If the Red Sox are looking for a relatively inexpensive, high-upside addition, Flaherty would make sense as a piece to shore up the back end of the depleted rotation.

Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Detroit Tigers

How about bringing back an old friend? E-Rod was in the midst of a Cy Young-caliber campaign in Detroit before being sidelined with a finger injury. The 2018 World Series champion had a 2.13 ERA through 11 starts before hitting the injured list. The Red Sox shouldn't expect that kind of production out of the veteran southpaw, but Rodriguez undoubtedly would bring a boost to a rotation that needs it to make a postseason push.

Michael Lorenzen, SP, Detroit Tigers

Lorenzen is the Tigers' All-Star representative this year amid a season in which he has posted a 4.03 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 15 outings (87 innings). The 31-year-old righty would be a rental, but he'd be a solid back-end arm and among the cheapest options on this list.

Paul Blackburn, SP, Oakland Athletics

The A's already tore down their roster, which is why they own an atrocious -248 run differential and a league-worst 25-67 record. Blackburn is the most valuable trade chip left in the organization. The 29-year-old righty's 4.86 ERA won't impress anyone, but he was an All-Star last season and could at least be a solid back-end rotation piece for a club that needs depth.

Joe Kelly, RP, Chicago White Sox

Now let's get into the relievers, starting with a familiar face. Kelly is an impending free agent ($8.5 million club option for 2024) who should be available for cheap and can still serve as a high-leverage option out of the 'pen. Fellow White Sox relievers Keynan Middleton and Reynaldo Lopez should also be available in trade discussions.

Brooks Raley, RP, New York Mets

Raley has enjoyed a nice season for a Mets club that's right there with the Cardinals as arguably the league's most disappointing. The 35-year-old lefty has a 2.30 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 38 appearances this season. He'd give the Red Sox a rock-solid back end of their bullpen alongside Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen.

David Robertson, RP, New York Mets

Robertson represents another intriguing Mets relief option. The 38-year-old veteran, who has a 2.08 ERA in 36 appearances, has been a model of consistency throughout his career and has plenty of postseason experience.

Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

Let's throw one non-pitching option in here just in case the Red Sox are unconvinced that Trevor Story can return from his injury as a shortstop. DeJong is enjoying a solid offensive season with the struggling Cards -- particularly against lefties -- and is a solid defender, something Boston has lacked at the position all year.

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