Red Sox missed out on Todd Frazier, but plenty of options remain

BOSTON, MA - JULY 25: Dave Dombrowski the President of Baseball Operations of the Boston Red Sox talks to the media before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park on July 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 25: Dave Dombrowski the President of Baseball Operations of the Boston Red Sox talks to the media before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park on July 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox missed out on Frazier, but that doesn’t mean they should give up on their pursuit of a third baseman.

The Red Sox missed out on a huge trade on Tuesday night, after they were outbid by the Yankees at the last moment for the services of Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and eventually Tommy Kahnle. For the Yankees, the move could be the difference between making the playoffs or sitting out for another season. It was huge for them, but did it really hurt the Red Sox?

Not as much as the Yankees would have liked. It would be nice to have Frazier at third over the current platoon of Brock Holt and Deven Marrero, that much was clear in Thursday’s loss to the Blue Jays. And the Red Sox still need to add a third baseman, but still, it’s not totally apparent that missing out on the package of players from Chicago will be enough to even draw the Yankees even.

The Red Sox are still the best team in the American League East. Just as we all predicted in March, their talent is undeniable, and it shows in the standings. Their lead over the rest of the division may have shrunk after their grueling eight game stretch following the All-Star break, but they still have a 2.5 game lead with a day off to get their legs back under them.

So where do the Red Sox go now? As good as the team is overall, third base remains a glaring hole. Adding Frazier would have made them better, no doubt, but there are a lot of available third basemen that would have the same effect. To be fair, pretty much any third baseman in baseball would be better than what the Red Sox have gotten out of the position this season. To date, Boston’s hot corner has contributed a .226/.286/.309 slash line, a wRC+ of 55, and -0.6 fWAR. Only Giants third basemen have been less valuable.

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Ironically, one of San Francisco’s third basemen, Eduardo Nunez, has been reportedly linked to Boston. He’s a much better player than the Giants’ collective numbers might suggest, hitting .300/.324/.411 with 17 steals and 35 runs this season. Nunez is just one of the many third basemen available on the trade market, most of whom come at little cost.

Between now and July 31, the Red Sox are going to have to decide where they want to take this club. Is it worth dealing prospects to upgrade at third, or are they comfortable holding the course until Rafael Devers makes an undeniable case for promotion? The latter option is the most exciting, as Devers is raking in AAA. Then again, he’s just 20 years old and there’s no way of knowing how well he’ll respond to the pressures of an MLB playoff race.

Given Dave Dombrowski’s history of managing prospects, there’s a far stronger chance that the team makes a trade between instead. With Frazier off the board now, who’s left for the club to consider?

Well, Nunez is the most likely player to be traded on the Giants roster and would be a fit in Boston. He’s also an impending free agent, which means he wouldn’t cost the Red Sox any more than a couple fringe prospects.

Former Red Sox SS/3B Jed Lowrie is also available, according to Jon Heyman. Lowrie spent four years in Boston from 2008-2011 and is hitting .270/.337/.449 with 10 home runs in Oakland. An impending free agent as well, he won’t require any blue chip prospects to be pried loose from the Athletics.

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If the Sox do intend to pay up, without giving up one of Devers or top pitching prospect Jay Groome, Pirates super-utility Josh Harrison is the best option available. The two-time All-Star has proven his versatility over the past three seasons, playing a combination of second, third, and all outfield positions. Along with four years of team control, he’s certainly worth interest and his versatility wouldn’t make him a clear obstacle at third for Devers next season.

Some other fringe candidates are Mets infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and T.J. Rivera. Cabrera is a pure shortstop and has next to no experience playing third, while Rivera is a rookie with five years of team control left and wouldn’t be a strong candidate to leave New York. They’re potential solutions, but highly unlikely ones.

Further down the list are David Freese and Martin Prado, both of whom are on the wrong end of their careers and fading quickly. Freese isn’t signed to the term or dollar value that Prado is, but is still locked up through the 2018 season and is more of a defensive asset than anything else at this point in his career. As for Prado, the $40 million he’s owed through 2019, his age-35 season, makes him a non-candidate. Dombrowski would be foolish to even consider it.

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Aside from Harrison, the aforementioned players aren’t as exciting as trading for Todd Frazier, or calling up Rafael Devers, but they’re safe. For the most part, you know what you’re getting out of a major league veteran, which can’t be said of 20-year-old prospects. That, and they’ll cost much less than what the Yankees gave to the White Sox. The Red Sox are good, really good, and while third base is a hole, it hasn’t crippled them yet. They were right to lay off Chicago’s asking price and look for other options because there are still plenty of them out there.