Red Sox Trade Deadline Target: Right-handed bat for the bench

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Jackie Bradley Jr.
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Jackie Bradley Jr. /

The Boston Red Sox need to bolster their bench by dealing for a right-handed bat before the MLB trade deadline next month.

The MLB trade deadline is approaching, leaving the Boston Red Sox a matter of weeks to address their most glaring weaknesses. There aren’t many holes in a lineup that leads the majors in runs scored but they should seek to improve against left-handed pitching. That puts a right-handed bat near the top of their wish list.

Boston’s lineup enters the day a mediocre 15th in the majors with a .244 batting average against lefties. Their collective .685 OPS ranks 23rd. This lineup leads the majors in both categories against right-handed pitching yet they continue to struggle against southpaws.

It seems the Red Sox jettisoned Hanley Ramirez in the nick of time but his departure leaves a void. Even when factoring in a May slump that doomed his tenure with the team, Ramirez was among the team’s top hitters against lefties.

A troubling portion of the Red Sox usual lineup has been abysmal against left-handed pitchers.

Rafael Devers .224 AVG, .599 OPS
Andrew Benintendi .203 AVG, 694 OPS
Sandy Leon .200 AVG, .459 OPS
Eduardo Nunez .169 AVG, .429 OPS
Jackie Bradley .118 AVG, .373 OPS

The Red Sox can tinker with the lineup to avoid exposing these hitters when a lefty takes the mound but they can’t bench all of them. First baseman Mitch Moreland has held his own thus far against lefties (.280 AVG, .773 OPS) but his career splits suggest he’ll regress.

Brock Holt is the rare lefty who fares better against left-handed pitchers. Christian Vazquez hits lefties better than right-handers and far better than Leon does. That only takes care of two spots. This leaves the Red Sox stuck with at least a few hitters who struggle against lefties. They simply don’t have enough options on the bench to overcome this weakness. Their only other bench option is the switch-hitting Blake Swihart, who has been useless against any type of pitcher.

Filling out the starting lineup isn’t the only concern. What about when the Red Sox face a tough lefty reliever late in a tight game? They can’t feel comfortable with any of the five hitters listed above in that situation. They need to send up a pinch-hitter. The problem is, they don’t have many options.

This may explain why Boston is 26th in the majors with only 28 at-bats from a pinch-hitter. Red Sox pinch-hitters are batting a meager .107 with a .310 OPS, placing them in the bottom three in the majors.

The eventual return of Dustin Pedroia will help but we still don’t know when he’ll be back. Or how long he’ll remain healthy this time. The Red Sox can’t count on the veteran second baseman to fix this issue against lefties.

The trade deadline will provide an opportunity to find a more reliable option. Boston isn’t in a position to deal for a star. This isn’t a plea to pry Manny Machado out of Baltimore. The Red Sox don’t have much left on the farm to sell. They also have very little wiggle room under the steepest territory of the luxury tax penalties.

What they need is a solid role player. Someone who doesn’t have to play everyday but can rake against lefties. Think of the role Chris Young played for this team (or at least the role they expected him to fill). They may be a player with flaws that have held them back from becoming a star. That means they won’t be expensive to acquire. Put them in the right situation though and they can thrive.

Next: Potential Red Sox trade deadline targets

The Red Sox are short on internal options to solve their biggest weakness. That means it’s time for Dealin’ Dave Dombrowski to do what he does best by finding a solution on the trade market.