Red Sox Trade Deadline: Biggest need is in the bullpen

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Craig Kimbrel
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Craig Kimbrel /

Behind Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero, the Boston Red Sox have established continuity at third base. The Trade Deadline focus now shifts to the inexperienced Sox bullpen.

There is little doubt that the Boston Red Sox will be buyers at the upcoming MLB trade deadline. However, the primary position of need may surprise many fans.

If the ending of the first half is any indication, a 3-1 series loss to the third place Rays, they will certainly need to upgrade in a few key positions.

Let’s take a look at the most pressing issues:

Third base may seem like the simple answer, as there hasn’t been a clear starter this season. Pablo Sandoval‘s injuries have resulted in a platoon of Deven Marrero / Tzu-Wei Lin /  Josh Rutledge. Despite the early struggles, the mess at third is becoming far less complex. Due to the recent emergence of Lin and Marrero, continuity has been established. For now, these two will continue to provide stability. Brock Holt will also help when he comes off the DL, after a long battle with vertigo.

The metaphorical revolving door may finally have an answer.

The Red Sox bullpen is the primary need at the deadline. The combination of Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel has been very solid throughout the first half of the year. Despite the early success, there is certainly room for improvement – and the last game of the first half exemplified that. In Tampa Bay, the Sox fought to take the lead against a divisional opponent, only to give the lead back in the late innings. A tough blow leading into the All-Star break.

There are plenty of positives in the Red Sox bullpen. For example, the emergence of Kelly – who, until Sunday, had not allowed an earned run in over 20 appearances. Kimbrel has been dominant – earning himself a spot in the All-Star game in Miami.

However, the Sox bullpen has also been filled with question marks. Scott replaced Robbie Ross and Fernando Abad as the lefty-specialist, but has struggled recently. Scott has allowed earned runs in his last four outings – ouch. Hembree has been prone to the long ball and Barnes has not been able to consistently throw strikes.

All of this points to the Sox making a move at the deadline.

"“In the bullpen, Carson Smith’s prolonged return from Tommy John surgery means the team can’t necessarily count on him being a relief mainstay over the final two months. That adds some uncertainty to whether another bullpen arm is a luxury or a necessity.”  – Tim Britton via South Coast Today"

Over the past few weeks, another bullpen arm seems more like a necessity.

One player that the Red Sox should highly consider pursuing is left-hander Mike Minor. Minor has posted a 1.91 ERA this season with the Royals and has become a top-tier bullpen asset. If not Minor, the Sox should look to add a veteran to add experience to a young bullpen. Possibly Pat Neshek, who has already been linked to the Red Sox.

Next: Red Sox first half season awards

Minor may not ultimately end up in a Boston Red Sox uniform and Carson Smith is a wild-card option. Regardless, there is little doubt that Dave Dombrowski should add some experience to help solidify a dominant bullpen.