Red Sox Rumors: Anthony Rizzo would be a good fit as a trade deadline upgrade

The Boston Red Sox should trade for Anthony Rizzo at the deadline

With the MLB trade deadline rapidly approaching, Chaim Bloom should be busy scouring the market for upgrades to fortify the Boston Red Sox roster for a playoff push. One of the most appealing potentially available options who also fits a position of need is Anthony Rizzo.

Appearing on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, former MLB general manager Steve Phillips explained why Rizzo would be a good fit for the Red Sox.

“Rizzo could be a real difference-maker for a lot of teams because his impact is: not only his production with the bat, it’s his production with the glove and his experience and leadership of hitting in big moments and (he’s) a guy who stays calm in those big at bats,” Phillips said. “Rizzo to the Red Sox and Rizzo to the (Milwaukee) Brewers sure feel like potential good fits.”

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Boston hasn’t shown many weaknesses during their rise to the top of the AL East but one position that desperately needs an upgrade is first base. The Red Sox rank 28th in the majors with a .204 batting average and dead-last with a .620 OPS from their first basemen this season.

Bobby Dalbec has fallen out of favor after struggling to live up to the rookie hype. He still flashes the occasional power that excited the organization last year but it’s buried under a pile of strikeouts. Michael Chavis has spent more time riding the bus between Boston and Worcester than he’s spent in the lineup. Boston tested Christian Arroyo at first base and he immediately injured his hamstring while stretching to make a play. Danny Santana is the latest experiment but he’s done little to deserve an everyday role.

Rizzo can be the answer for the Red Sox

The Red Sox need to find better options than this if they expect to contend for a World Series title. Enter Rizzo, a three-time All-Star who already has a championship ring.

Rizzo is hitting .247 with a .778 OPS, 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 84 games for the Cubs this season. He isn’t enjoying his best season but his production still represents a significant upgrade over the options Boston has attempted to cobble together at first base.

The left-handed bat of Rizzo would help balance out a Red Sox lineup that leans heavily to the right. Rizzo has actually fared much better against southpaws this year, and while that hasn’t been the case over the course of his career, Boston wouldn’t be acquiring a player of his caliber to be a platoon player. Still, if they needed to give the veteran an occasional day off, Dalbec has been somewhat useful against lefties (.269/.289/.505).

Rizzo is a four-time Gold Glove award winner and a Platinum Glove winner who would provide a boost to the infield defense. The left side of the Red Sox infield isn’t exactly known for their defensive prowess so adding a first baseman who can pick it as well as Rizzo would help cover some of the mistakes made on throws from across the diamond.

The 31-year-old is in the final year of his contract and with the Cubs sitting seven games outside of a playoff spot they might be inclined to sell if their outlook doesn’t improve over the next week.

Rizzo is owed $16.5 million this year, a price that would be prorated based on the remaining schedule at the time he’s acquired. Boston would blow by the luxury tax threshold with this move but they are so close to the line now that essentially any upgrade they make at the deadline puts them over. Why settle for a more modest upgrade if they are destined to be a tax team either way?

The cost the Red Sox should be more concerned about is the bundle of prospects it will take to pry Rizzo away from the Cubs. It won’t be cheap but Boston’s brass must resist overpaying for a rental. Bloom isn’t going to surrender his best assets in any deadline deal but if the Cubs are willing to accept prospects he deems expendable then he can’t be shy about pulling the trigger.

Boston drafted Rizzo back in 2007, only to trade him to the San Diego Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Rizzo made a brief debut with the Padres in 2011 before they shipped him to Chicago where he emerged as a star while helping to end a painfully long championship drought. It would be fitting for him to return to the Red Sox organization at this stage of his career to help bring a title to Boston.

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The Red Sox don’t necessarily need to make a big splash in order to stay in the mix for a playoff spot but they do need a difference-maker if they intend to hang on to the lead in the competitive AL East and contend for a championship. They would be hard-pressed to find a better fit at a position of need than Rizzo so it’s a deal that needs to be explored if the Cubs make him available.