The MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching and now teams are splitting into buyers and sellers. The top tier of teams gears up to make a playoff push that could run them deep into October, while the bottom tier decides whats best for their organization moving forward. Contracts of teams that are out of playoff hunts seem to be more valuable for playoff contenders prior to July 31st. The Boston Red Sox are obviously in the “buyer” category and they have a couple of different needs moving forward to compete for a World Series.
At this point in time, no team in baseball is unbeatable. Some of the top American League teams have shown their struggles this season. The Astros are plagued by injury, the Yankees are struggling to nail down the back end of their starting rotation, and the Boston Red Sox are struggling in both the infield and in the bullpen.
The bullpen struggles by no means include Allstar Craig Kimbrel but more the pitchers assigned to cover the seventh and eighth innings. Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly have had up and down Red Sox careers. Kelly was off to one of the hottest starts in baseball this season racking up numerous scoreless innings. All that seems to be a distant memory from the Joe Kelly that has taken late inning duties over now.
On May 29, Kelly had given up just five earned runs in 26 innings. The outlier was opening night against the Rays where he gave up four earned runs while only giving up one out. Exclude that one outing and he gave up one earned run in 25.2 innings. Since May 29, Kelly has given up 17 earned in just 15.1 innings. In his last four outings, he has pitched a total of 2.1 innings and has given up eight runs. Which officially means he’s actually given up more runs than he has gotten outs in the last week.
It’s extremely difficult to expect a 21-year-old third baseman to be perfect, but when his bat isn’t performing, and the errors are piling up it’s hard to avoid. Rafael Devers, in his short MLB career, has struggled with his glove at third base. He has hidden it rather well with his bat, however, as he hit the month of May, he watched his average slip from .268 all the way to .234. He went just 22-104 and showed a surprising lack of patience having 27 strikeouts and only eight walks. In June, he hit .284 and seemed to have it all figured out, however, July saw him go just 8-45 with only one extra-base hit.
The errors are the thing that stands out most for Rafael Devers besides from his young age. In the 151 games that Devers has played in his big league career, he has 37 errors. This shows that Devers is averaging an error every four games he plays in. Which also means that in the 1312 innings he has played in his big league career, he averages one error every 35 innings. In the last two seasons, he has the most errors of any third baseman in baseball. The Red Sox have 48 errors this season which is second in the American League.
The Red Sox have already been active up to this point. They have recently acquired Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays for Jalen Beeks and he could provide stability in the starting rotation. One thing the Red Sox have been missing is a fifth arm in their starting rotation. David Price, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello all seem to be the pitchers the Red Sox move forward with.
Eovaldi is 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA and could potentially be that fifth starter. He would provide a second right-handed arm in a world of lefties and has proven his ability to keep a team in the game when he does start. He would either be the fifth starter or find a position in the bullpen giving way to Brian Johnson, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright to all battle out a position in the starting rotation long term.
Filling the void:
As the trade deadline approaches the Red Sox are looking to fill a few different voids. They are looking to fill a void in the back part of their bullpen and they are possibly looking for a right-handed bat that could split time at third base.
The final thing the Red Sox probably wouldn’t mind is another consistent right-handed starter. Whatever they choose to do with Nathan Eovaldi could solve at least one of their problems listed above. However, the Red Sox are certainly on the look for easy to acquire assets to help them compete for a championship.
Ultimately the Red Sox don’t need to be buyers at this point. They are a very good baseball team regardless of what they do. If they sure up their bullpen, the Red Sox are going to be a very tough out come October.
Featured image from Boston Sports Extra .
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