The Boston Red Sox' performance over the next couple of weeks could determine how chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. approach the 2023 MLB trade deadline.
The club enters Wednesday with a 43-43 record. They're 21-22 at home and 22-21 on the road. Their +9 run differential ranks 16th in the league. They're the very definition of mediocre.
Despite that, a Wild Card spot remains a possibility if they can find their groove in July. They're currently five games back in the AL Wild Card race and if that number shrinks ahead of the deadline, they could look to add some pieces that can help them make a postseason push.
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If the Red Sox continue to lose ground in the Wild Card race, Bloom should look to sell some of their most valuable trade chips and build for the future. It remains unclear which way Boston's front office is leaning.
“I think we’re going to need more time before the deadline to see exactly what makes sense for us to do,” Bloom told MLB.com last week. “We understand the reality of the division. It’s probably the best division in the history of baseball, but it’s where we play.
"We’re hoping to put the pieces together a little bit better than we did in the first half, have a lot of those individual bright spots add up to more team wins and put ourselves in a position to make the postseason. Obviously, we’ll need to see how we play between now and then and we can figure out where to go from there.”
So who would Boston part ways with if it decides to sell before the Aug. 1 trade deadline? Here's a list of players who are the most likely to be moved in that scenario.
Adam Duvall, OF
Duvall may not last a full season in Boston after signing a one-year contract with the club during the winter. The veteran slugger is an obvious trade chip given Jarren Duran's emergence as a legitimate center fielder and Rob Refsnyder's success against left-handers. Plus, it would be wise to move Duvall while his numbers are inflated from the tear he went on prior to his wrist injury. If the Red Sox sell, he's perhaps the most obvious goner.
James Paxton, LHP
Paxton is right there with Duvall as arguably the most obvious trade candidate on the Red Sox roster. The veteran southpaw is playing on a cheap one-year deal and has pitched extremely well since returning from injury. While injuries will always be a concern with Paxton, there undoubtedly will be teams willing to take a chance on the 34-year-old as they prepare to make a playoff push.
Justin Turner, 1B/DH
Turner has been one of the few bright spots for Boston this season after signing a one-year contract with a player option for 2024. The 38-year-old is slashing .279/.352/.460 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs. That production, plus the invaluable veteran leadership he'd bring to a club with postseason aspirations, will make him a coveted player ahead of the trade deadline.
Kenley Jansen, RHP
Jansen is pricier than the previous options (two-year, $32 million contract) but there should still be clubs looking to add a proven back-end bullpen piece at the deadline. If the Red Sox season goes downhill over the next few weeks, there will be no reason to keep the 35-year-old All-Star closer on the roster when they can get a decent return for him.
Chris Martin, RHP
If Jansen isn't moved, the most likely trade candidate out of the Red Sox bullpen is Martin. The 37-year-old, who signed a two-year deal worth $13.5 million in the offseason, has been Boston's best reliever to date with a 1.73 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He would fetch a solid return from a contender in need of bullpen reinforcements.
Nick Pivetta, RHP
Pivetta has sneakily improved his trade value since being demoted to the bullpen in May. The 30-year-old righty has a 2.63 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 13 relief appearances since May 21. He could return to a starting role with a team in need of a back-end rotation piece, or he could continue to help a club out of the 'pen. Either way, it wouldn't be a surprise if Pivetta's days with the Red Sox are numbered.
Kiké Hernández, UTIL
Hernández is in the midst of an all-around terrible season. Despite that, he still has some trade value as a rental due to his versatility. With a Duran/Refsnyder platoon looking like the plan for Boston in center field and Trevor Story set to take over at shortstop when he returns from injury, the Red Sox could look to give the veteran utility man a change of scenery.
Bobby Dalbec, INF
Dalbec has spent most of the season wasting away in Triple-A with no real path to regular playing time in Boston. Given how he has slugged in Worcester (19 homers in 56 games), there should be a big-league club willing to give the 28-year-old a chance to revitalize his career.