With so many teams still in the hunt, baseball’s trade deadline becomes much more complicated - The Boston Globe (2024)

The only obvious sellers at this point are the Angels, Athletics, Marlins, Rockies, and White Sox. Of that group, the Rockies are notoriously difficult to deal with, and Angels owner Arte Moreno could well decide to go in a different direction or no direction at all.

A common theme among executives is wondering where their trade partners will come from. That means a secure general manager — think Mike Rizzo of the Nationals or Scott Harris of the Tigers — could take advantage of the situation to become sellers and exploit the market.

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Washington could move closer Kyle Finnegan, setup men Dylan Floro and Hunter Harvey, and corner outfielders Lane Thomas and Jesse Winker to add more young talent to an already impressive core.

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Winker, an All-Star with the Reds in 2021, struggled for two seasons and was signed for one year and $2 million in February. He has an OPS close to .800 this season. His best value is on the trade market.

Related: Red Sox could add a power-hitting first baseman and an All-Star reliever before the trade deadline

The Tigers could flip Jack Flaherty after signing him to a one-year deal. The righthander has had a comeback season, improving his numbers across the board after a difficult 2023.

Mark Canha has value as a platoon outfielder and first baseman. Lefthanded reliever Andrew Chafin has been better of late and could be part of a deal.

Ruthlessness has its rewards. Orioles general manager Mike Elias traded closer Jorge Lopez at the 2022 deadline when the team was unexpectedly contending. He received four prospects from the Twins.

It was a hugely unpopular move among the fans and Orioles players at the time. But Yennier Cano is now one of Baltimore’s high-leverage relievers. Lefthander Cade Povich made his debut this month and has started four games. Righthander Juan Nunez is a solid prospect.

The Orioles made the playoffs last season and are fighting the Yankees atop the American League East this year. Their fans have forgotten about ‘22.

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Tampa Bay has not played well but is still in contention. After five consecutive years in the postseason, the Rays will be hesitant to trade from what has been a successful group. But the Rays could subtract some pieces with an eye on the future knowing that they could still compete thanks to their pitching depth.

It will take confidence, but there will be a few GMs who will be willing to take the heat this season in return for improving the future.

Based on conversations with people around the game, a look at some of the other story lines that will unfurl over the next month:

Craig Breslow’s dilemma: Red Sox ownership decided sometime over the winter that 2024 wasn’t their year and reduced spending. Alex Cora and the players didn’t get the memo and the Sox are contending for a playoff spot.

The Sox need a righthanded hitter, a starter, and relief help. They have enough prospects to make some deals and not risk the future.

Breslow has said he will be a buyer or seller, not both. He acknowledged that conversation has changed in the last two weeks. Whether it changes again in two weeks is the question.

Cora, of course, would like to see improvements.

“I can walk you through the trading deadline the way I see it,” he said. “There’s three ways you can go: you buy, you sell, you stay put. When you stay put, well, there’s going to be teams that they added, and they’re going to be better than you.”

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As a former player, Breslow understands he’ll anger the clubhouse if he doesn’t improve the roster. But as a data-driven executive, he’ll go where the projections take him.

If the Sox add, Oakland’s Brent Rooker would give them a righthanded hitter and DH. Thomas or Taylor Ward of the Angels would fit. Or consider a reunion with J.D. Martinez, Tommy Pham, or Justin Turner.

Related: Will the Red Sox be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? Craig Breslow gives his thoughts.

▪ White Sox in position: Chicago needs a complete organizational reset. Trading outfielder Luis Robert Jr., lefthander Garrett Crochet, and righthander Erick Fedde would get the White Sox further down that road.

Crochet came out of the bullpen to start and has been terrific. But he already has thrown 94⅓ innings, 40 more than his previous high in the majors.

Robert, who is signed through 2025, has had a poor season. But getting out of a hopeless situation can only help.

Fedde, who has a 3.23 ERA in 17 starts, was signed for two years and $15 million after excelling in Korea, and he is only 31.

The remaining members of the 1962 Mets will be rooting for as many trades as first-year GM Chris Getz can make. The White Sox could break their record of 120 losses.

On the north side, the Cubs have been a major disappointment despite the addition of manager Craig Counsell. If they decide to sell, outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger is the big prize. Righthander Kyle Hendricks has had a poor season but allowed only three earned runs over 12⅔ innings in his two starts after spending three weeks in the bullpen.

▪ Blow up the Blue Jays? Toronto has underachieved for two consecutive years. Is it time to change the mix by trading first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or shortstop Bo Bichette?

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The Jays spent $400 million renovating Rogers Centre and are sitting in last place in the division. They fired manager Charlie Montoyo in 2022 and made the playoffs. This time it could take more significant changes.

▪ As to last season: The Rangers have been a wreck, under .500 since mid-May and beset by injuries. But if the defending World Series champions can get reasonably close to a wild card by the deadline, they’ll look to add, knowing their experience can make a difference in the postseason.

The defending National League champion Diamondbacks feel the same way. They have yet to have their rotation together, with Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Eduardo Rodriguez making only 15 starts.

Red Sox have exceeded expectations. Can they keep it up?

BAD SIGN?

Red Sox fans pass

on All-Star voting

One way or another, Jarren Duran will end up on the All-Star team. MLB will find a way to do the right thing. But it should be unsettling to the executives at Fenway Park that Duran fared so poorly in fan voting.

Duran was 16th among American League outfielders. The fifth finalist, Kyle Tucker of the Astros, received 1,426,948 million votes. Duran had 510,485.

In all, players from eight other teams were ahead of him.

It’s not Duran’s fault, obviously. He has overcome obstacles to become one of the most exciting players in the game. Duran plays every day and hustles on the field to such an extent that opposing managers have expressed their admiration for how he plays.

Related: Why being named an All-Star would be so special to Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran

But the Red Sox fan base was indifferent about rallying behind Duran. They just weren’t emotionally invested enough in the team to go online and vote for Duran, Rafael Devers, or Connor Wong.

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It’s a product of poor messaging from the Sox about the direction of the team, a series of terrible baseball decisions going back to the firing of Dave Dombrowski in 2019, and a tepid offseason.

The Sox have outplayed modest preseason expectations. But the All-Star voting, the lack of sellouts, the preponderance of visiting fans at Fenway, and the sharp drop in local media coverage would be worrisome signs for any franchise.

For a foundational team such as the Red Sox, lit should be especially concerning. Duran will find his way onto the All-Star team and the voting will be forgotten. Overcoming apathy is a much bigger problem.

A few other observations on the Red Sox:

The return of Xander Bogaerts to Fenway Park this weekend should spark good memories for Red Sox fans. Bogaerts helped the Sox win the World Series as a rookie in 2013, and again as an established veteran in 2018.

He rarely missed a game over 10 years with the Sox despite playing a demanding position. Bogaerts was a four-time All-Star and managed to play a decade in a large market without any sort of controversy.

Bogaerts would be adding to his legacy in Boston had the Red Sox made him a reasonable contract offer during spring training in 2022. But they badly misjudged the market and have since used nine starters at shortstop, none who have performed particularly well.

Bogaerts, who is on the injured list with a fractured shoulder, has hit .270 with a .741 OPS in 202 games for the Padres. That’s not up his standards. But Red Sox shortstops have hit .241 with a .670 OPS in the same period.

There was a reasonable deal to be had before the season in 2022 that would have looked a lot different than the 11 years/$280 million he received from the Padres. But like Jon Lester and Mookie Betts, Bogaerts had to find his market elsewhere.

The Sox lost Bogaerts and decided that same day to spend $90 million on Masataka Yoshida plus a $15.3 million posting fee. How’s that looking?

Bogaerts also understood he would eventually move off shortstop, which he has already done with the Padres.

Related: ‘This is all new for me.’ Xander Bogaerts still feels at home in Boston, even as a visiting player to Fenway Park

▪ Double A catching prospect Kyle Teel has a bright future by all accounts and is close to a promotion to Triple A. But Wong sure looks like a lot more than a future backup this season.

He’s been one of the most productive catchers in the game at the plate and improved his throwing to bases. Wong also has earned the trust of the pitching staff.

Wong is 28, roughly the same age Jason Varitek was when he started to flourish. He’s also a good bet to keep improving with Varitek coaching him.

Maybe Wong turns into a catcher/infielder/outfielder super sub. Or maybe he still has his job next season.

▪ Say this for Chaim Bloom: He was an excellent singles hitter. The acquisitions of Brennan Bernardino, David Hamilton, Zack Kelly, and Rob Refsnyder were not big news at the time and all have proven to be valuable contributors.

Nick Pivetta belongs on that list, too. The big pickup in that 2020 deal with the Phillies was righthander Connor Seabold, who is now pitching in Korea.

Future looks bright for the Red Sox

ETC.

There’s plenty

to choose from

Toronto righthander Chris Bassitt faced the Red Sox in consecutive starts this month. The Sox won both games, but he allowed only four earned runs over 13 innings.

Bassitt threw eight different pitches when he faced the Red Sox on June 18: sinker (34), cutter (25), curveball (21), splitter (11), sweeper (4), four-seam fastball (2), slider (1), and changeup (1). They ranged in speed from 94.6 to 67.7 miles per hour.

He came back Monday and threw only seven pitches, deciding not to show the conventional slider.

“He throws a lot of different fastballs,” Red Sox first baseman Dominic Smith said. “He seems to have more pitches than anybody else.”

Smith was on to something. According to Baseball Savant, Bassitt, Royals reliever Seth Lugo, and Twins starter Kenta Maeda are the only pitchers to have used eight pitches this season.

Extra bases

Alex Verdugo was 3 for 5 with a homer and four RBIs in his return to Fenway Park on June 14. He was 4 for 38 in the next 10 games with no extra-base hits and no home runs. His OPS dropped from .757 to .699 . . . If the Yankees being tormented brightens your day, you’ll be pleased to know this is the seventh consecutive year they will not win the Subway Series. The Yankees swept the series in 2017. The teams have split five times since, with the Mets winning outright once. The Mets won the first two games this season, 9-7 and 12-2 at Citi Field this past week. The teams meet again at Yankee Stadium July 23-24 . . . Fernando Tatis Jr. has hit .265 with a .788 OPS, 39 home runs, and 114 RBIs over 221 games since the start of last season. That’s well above league average. But Tatis hit .293 with a .965 OPS, 81 home runs, and 195 RBIs over 273 games before he was suspended for using a performance-enhancing drug. An 18 percent drop in OPS is not some wild coincidence . . . The Edwin Díaz story has taken a bad turn. The Mets closer, beloved in 2022, was lost for the season in ‘23 because of a knee injury suffered while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic. He opened this season with a 4.70 earned run average and four blown saves in 11 attempts. His recent outings showed improvement, then Díaz was suspended for 10 games this past week for using a sticky substance on his hands . . . In the last 13 months, Astros pitchers Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., and José Urquidy have undergone elbow surgery. That somewhat coincides with the departure of respected pitching coach Brent Strom to the Diamondbacks after the 2021 season, but it seems to be more a case of misfortune . . . Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson went into the weekend with 26 home runs. Cal Ripken topped out at 34 in 1991. Alex Rodriguez is the only shortstop to hit 50 or more in a season, with 52 in 2001 and 57 in 2002. The legitimacy of those homers are questionable given Rodriguez’s history . . . Now that the All-Star Game is back to being an exhibition, Pirates rookie Paul Skenes should get a spot on the National League roster. The 22-year-old threw 70 pitches of at least 100 miles per hour in his first eight starts. When he faced the Rays this past week, Skenes went seven innings, allowing one run and striking out eight. His final pitch was a 105.5-m.p.h. fastball to strike out Alex Jackson . . . The Dodgers moved Shohei Ohtani to leadoff on June 17 after Mookie Betts went on the injured list with a fractured left hand. Ohtani was 14 of 33 (.424) in his first nine games atop the order with nine extra-base hits, 12 runs, 15 RBIs and 10 walks as the Dodgers went 7-2. His on-base percentage was .545 . . . MLB listed 25 people named to the rosters of the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game. Your correspondent has heard of nine of them. One was Pedro Martinez . . . Happy birthday to Mike Carp, who is 38. The first baseman and left fielder had the best season of his career in 2013 in helping the Red Sox win the World Series. It started inauspiciously when Carp was designated for assignment by the Mariners during spring training, then purchased by the Sox to compete for a job with Lyle Overbay. Carp earned the roster spot and went on to hit .296 with a career-best .885 OPS over 86 games. Carp had nine RBIs as a pinch hitter and hit two home runs. Carp was part of the 2014 roster purge, going to the Rangers on waivers. It proved to be his final season in the majors. Carp played winter ball in Mexico after the 2016 season, then played independent ball in 2019.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him @PeteAbe.

With so many teams still in the hunt, baseball’s trade deadline becomes much more complicated - The Boston Globe (2024)

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