With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Boston Red Sox are still in a position where they could use an upgrade at second base.
So far, the Boston Red Sox’ focus has been on acquiring more pitching, and rightly so. But come October, when they are facing some of the best pitching in the league and defense is of absolute importance, production out of second base may need to be boosted.
With all indications being that Dustin Pedroia won’t be back this season, the Red Sox are left with Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt as their options for the position. While they have been serviceable throughout the season (Holt more so than Nunez), an upgrade would be the best option for the postseason.
Even though he hit the ball hard three times last night, Nunez is not what the team would want going forward, as Jake Sauberman wrote about earlier this week.
And while Holt has been solid for most of the season, his July has been rough. Since July 1, he’s hitting only .226 with a .562 OPS in 15 games.
Brandon Phillips is also being stashed in Triple-A Pawtucket, where the Red Sox hoped he could get back into shape to play at the Major League level. But he is just 5-for-29 over the span eight games. During his time in Pawtucket, he’s battled minor injuries and hasn’t played full time. He could get his chance in August or September, but he isn’t an option for the big club just yet.
There are some options on the trade market, though, for the Red Sox to consider. At the beginning of the trade season, they were rumored to be interested in Oakland A’s infielder Jed Lowrie. But this was when the A’s were a fringe playoff team. A 15-5 record in July has brought them within one game of the second Wild Card spot, which means they won’t be sellers.
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Asdrubal Cabrera was another name that was being thrown around for the Red Sox before the New York Mets shipped him to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies. Also, Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals was recently taken off the trading block when the Royals said he would not be traded this deadline. And D.J. LeMahieu won’t be going anywhere either, with the Colorado Rockies right in the middle of a playoff race.
So that leaves the Red Sox in a similar situation to the one they are in with relief pitching. Many of the most prominent names are now off the market for one reason or another.
But there are still a couple of names that could be of interest.
For one, Scooter Gennett of the Cincinnati Reds. Gennett had the best season of his six-year career last year and was an All-Star this year. He is eligible for arbitration this offseason and is making just under $6 million this year.
The Reds are in a division where every team but them has a chance to make the playoffs, and there really isn’t a reason that that should change by next year. Boston could put together a modest package for him and get an all-around upgrade for the rest of the season, while giving themselves some insurance for next year, if Pedroia is still not back to form.
One other option is Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins. Dozier would be a rental, which would likely alleviate some of the cost it would take to bring him to Boston. He’s shown serious pop throughout his career and as a right-handed hitter, he could be a perfect fit for Fenway. He is having a down year in terms of his slash line (.226/.307/.409) of which all sections are his lowest since his rookie year. But overall, his numbers are better than both Nunez and Holt. The only problem here is that Jerry Crasnick described Dozier to Boston as “highly unlikely.”
Finally, as Buster Olney recently pointed out, the Red Sox are in a good enough position in the division that they can wait it out a little bit longer and possibly go after someone like Ian Kinsler of the Los Angeles Angels in August if he clears waivers.
Even though the Red Sox offense has struggled in these last two games against the Twins, they still have a five-game cushion in the division. They still have time, however small that amount may be, to wait a little bit longer.
Second base isn’t a glaring need the way that pitching is, but if the Red Sox hope to make a deep run into October, then finding an upgrade could help tremendously. Possible help is out there. They just need to find the right match.