Despite the already low expectations, the Red Sox still have far underperformed. Batters that would normally dominate are average at best. Pitchers that started the season out hot have since cooled down. Here is what Boston should do at the August 31 trade deadline.
J.D. Martinez Needs To Go
There is a lot to discuss when talking about Martinez. The best place to start is just how poorly he is playing. He is batting under .250, with only a pair of homers to his name. The last time he batted worse was in 2012 with Houston, where he was in his first full season. Then there’s also the perceived personality issue. He blames the lack of preparation for his struggles, and that same sentiment appears to be rubbing off on his teammates.
J.D. has continued to comment on how poorly the team is playing, and how it isn’t fun to lose. While he isn’t wrong, many would rather see him do something about it instead of complaining. But the biggest reason to trade him is his contract situation. He is among the top earners on the team, taking in roughly $20 million per year. But he also has an opt out following this season, meaning he could leave for nothing.
Many competing teams would take the chance to acquire his talents, especially considering he’s only performed this way for 23 games. The Red Sox also wouldn’t ask for too much, most likely a relief or starting pitcher and/or a prospect. Pairing Jackie Bradley Jr., who’s contract also expires after the season, would increase the value as well.
The replacement is also a relatively simple choice. Michael Chavis has struggled a bit this season, but has gotten hot as of late. He is versatile, yet not great at fielding, meaning a switch to DH wouldn’t hurt the team. His two main positions are seemingly locked up as well, so he would also get an increase in playing time. He’s not the only option, but he is the easiest and perhaps the best option to replace JD if a trade goes down.
Patience with Young Players
Its certainly not the Red Sox year, so prioritizing the development of young players is important. They are unfortunately struggling as well this year, some of which are posting career worst numbers. But if there’s one thing the Red Sox must not do, is give up on the young core this trade deadline
Benintendi is one of, if not the worst batter in the entire league. After showing impressive amounts of potential early on, the left fielder continues to decline. And while it is discouraging, it would be insane to give up on him so soon. He was crucial for the Red Sox up to last year, and even then he was still a solid player. Add that to the fact he’s only 26, and patience becomes the name of the game.
Chavis is only in his second year, but was expected to break out. That has not exactly been the case so far, as he seems to have regressed from the year prior. But two seasons does not make or break a player, especially one at the age of 25 with still no concrete role. As mentioned before, he could be a key piece in the rebuild/retooling once it begins, so holding onto him will be crucial.
The biggest disappointment among young stars may be Rafael Devers. Devers was one of the best players in the league last year, as well as one of the only bright spots of last years squad. But he has been struggling massively this year, almost to the same level as Benintendi. The 23-year-old clearly is talented, and is the least likely guy to get traded. But its still important to remember that he must be off-limits, especially with some jumping the gun and calling him a one-season wonder.
Test Sale and Eovaldi’s Market
There is definitely a question around how much value Sale and Eovaldi currently have. For Sale, he just underwent Tommy John while coming off a poor 2019 campaign. Eovaldi started the season off hot, but has cooled off to the point of being simply terrible. Both have large contracts, and the Red Sox would benefit greatly by moving on before the trade deadline.
Boston could pair either of them with Martinez or Workman to increase their value. They wouldn’t get too much from them, but a decent prospect is not a lot to ask for considering their upsides. If they fail to trade them by the deadline, and Eovaldi doesn’t improve as the season goes on, then there’s a good chance they will be traded this offseason.
Trade For Pitchers and Prospects
Up to this point, we’ve only talked about who should stay and who should leave. But what has not yet been mentioned is what needs to come in. The answer is simple enough though. Pitchers are clearly needed, and further additions to the farm system wouldn’t hurt either.
Workman was just traded away, with the Red Sox getting a good pitching prospect in return. While that helps the farm system, and ensures we retain value, it also means are already poor bullpen receives another hit. Sure, it has a few decent guys like Brewer, Hernandez, and Valdez. But bringing in at least one more guy via trade, in addition to maybe calling up a prospect like Tanner Houck, would solidify the bullpen.
The starting rotation is even poorer. The only solid starter has been Martin Perez, and stars Sale and Rodriguez are out for the year. That means even if you’re focusing on next season, Boston still needs a couple new starters. You could bring up a couple prospects like Bryan Mata or Jay Groome, but another veteran addition would be preferred.
Courtesy of Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty