The Red Sox have developed a few glaring holes in their roster throughout the season. It’s time to evaluate how serious they are.
As it stands, the Boston Red Sox are in full control of the AL East with a record of 33-15.
This team has surprised fans at points early on in the season; however there are plenty of question marks that have arose throughout the early parts of the season. For the most part, any issues have been masked by the play of Mookie Betts & J.D. Martinez.
If the season ended today, the AL MVP voting would result in a unanimous victory for Betts. He’s hitting for power and average while proving the need for a contract extension. Martinez has proved to be worth every penny of his offseason deal and stabilizing the middle of the Red Sox order.
Despite plenty of positives, there are holes that must be addressed properly in order to ensure a deep run in the postseason. This article will address popular theories among fans and determine validity.
*Key: Buy = True / Sell = False*
Let’s “buy” or “sell.”
The Red Sox need to upgrade behind the plate.
During the offseason, Dave Dombrowski rewarded Christian Vazquez‘ career year with a 3 year contract extension worth $13,350,000 overall.
After a breakout 2017 campaign, Vazquez’ offensive production has plummeted. He’s hitting a disappointing .193 on the young season. Last season he showed signs of sustainable success at the plate, but has struggled early on.
Meanwhile, Sandy Leon has struggled in limited innings with a .214 average.
The Red Sox acquiring J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins is a pipe-dream due to the immense cost in prospects. The farm system has been largely drained over the past few seasons and hindered by the injury to Jay Groome & suspension of Michael Chavis.
It’s possible that the Red Sox could acquire a veteran option with a better track record at the plate; however it is an unlikely situation. They had the opportunity to acquire Jonathan Lucroy on a team-friendly deal on the offseason, but passed as he signed with the Athletics.
This will be a similar situation.
The Red Sox need to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.
There is no getting around it, JBJ has been abysmal at the plate to begin the season. He’s hitting .176 at the plate and has managed to lower his career batting average to a mere .235.
He’s often seemed lost at the plate. He’s guessed wrong. He’s looked overmatched. He’s struggled…badly.
The Red Sox have two more years of JBJ before the dreaded Scott Boras demands a large contract for his client. At this point, it seems unlikely that Dave Dombrowski will back up the Brink’s trucks to retain Bradley.
Yes, he provides outstanding defense. However it is time to stop using that as an excuse for poor offensive output. If the Red Sox accept subpar performances, the result on the field will eventually become just that.
At this point, the Red Sox will not get much for Bradley in a trade. His value has never been lower and he’s still a valuable commodity on the current Sox roster. He could be used as a piece in a larger trade, but it is very unlikely that JBJ is shipped out of Boston.
Perhaps a trip to the DL is necessary.
The Red Sox need to upgrade their bullpen.
Throughout the early part of the season, there have been only a handful of reliable options out of the Red Sox bullpen – two actually. Craig Kimbrel, though shaky last night, is as dominant of a closer as the Sox have ever had. Meanwhile, Joe Kelly has seemingly locked down the setup role.
After Kelly and Kimbrel, there are an abundance of question marks. Carson Smith is hurt. Matt Barnes often loses the strike zone. Heath Hembree struggles in high leverage. Brian Johnson isn’t much of a reliever. Steven Wright is more of a starter. And the list continues.
Yes, Tyler Thornburg is expected to be back soon; however the Red Sox would be wise to pursue a veteran option at the end of the bullpen. A Swiss army knife that would be able to bail the Sox out of any situation.
Last season, Dave Dombrowski acquired Addison Reed to fill a similar void. It would not be surprising to see the Red Sox inquire on the availability of multiple relievers. Greg Holland has struggled in St. Louis, but a midseason push could drive up his trade value. With the Cardinals utilizing Bud Norris and 105 mph flamethrower, Jordan Hicks, it could leave Holland as expendable.
Pat Neshek has accumulated a 2.45 ERA in Colorado. He’s been on the move in recent deadline trades and the Red Sox should inquire on his services. He is on the 10 Day DL, but is expected to return in mid-June.
There’s plenty of time before the mid-summer Trade Deadline; however it is important to evaluate the validity of rumors floating around Boston.