With the Trade Deadline this Friday many rumors are beginning to swirl for teams across baseball. The Red Sox currently find themselves in a position to possibly build at the deadline rather than sell for the future, which is a pleasant surprise to say the least given the teams last place finish in the division last season. Fans and media were looking for a bounce back season, but it’s safe to say that almost no one saw this performance coming. The team has been rumored to be interested in several players, both pitchers and offensive players including Chicago Cubs star first-baseman Anthony Rizzo. However, should the Red Sox trade for Rizzo, or should they look elsewhere? Or nowhere at all?
Buy or Sell?
Coming into today the Red Sox are tied with the Houston Astros for best record in the American League. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Chicago Cubs currently sitting in 4th place in the National League Central. The team sits nine games out of first and trending downward. The Cubs posted a record of 18-28 since June 1st that includes an 11-game losing streak. The Cubs already dealt outfielder Joc Pederson, and are expected to sell players like Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo. This makes the Cubs and the Red Sox strong possible trade partners come this Friday.
The Pitching Staff
Many people point to the pitching staff as the team’s weak point. They feel the starting rotation is subpar and lack a true ace right now. The Sox have a team Earned Run Average (ERA) of 4.06, which ranks 7th in the American League. Not great, but not terrible either. Red Sox pitchers are ranked 3rd in the AL in strikeouts and 1st in home runs aloud so they can get it done and keep the offense in the game. Plus, Chris Sale and Ryan Brasier are expected to return from the Injured List at some point this season. Don’t expect Sale to start this season but he could definitely help the bullpen down the stretch. With the team also calling up young pitching prospect Tanner Houck to start, I do not expect this team to add any pitching at the deadline, nor do I think they should.
Offensively the team is gritty and effective. The middle of the lineup with Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), and J.D. Martinez (DH) is one of the best three through five slots in baseball. With Players like Alex Verdugo (LF), Christian Vazquez (C), and Hunter Renfroe (RF) performing well offensively for their respected positions, while also performing well in the field, it’s hard to find a week spot on the team. Kike Hernandez has been a good find as well this season with his ability to play almost anywhere in the field. Although he leaves a bit to be desired as the teams’ lead-off hitter with only a .244 batting average so far this season. His clutch hitting and electric play in the field and on the base path has been worth every penny so far.
Problems Beneath the Surface
This team looks solid on the surface. Dig a little deeper however and you can see where the cracks really are. The lineup is good, but if falls off a bit towards the end. The lack of left-handed hitting has been apparent. Devers, and Verdugo have been the only lefties in the lineup for most of the season. Marwin Gonzalez and Danny Santana can switch hit but both are injured for the foreseeable future right now. Left-handed hitting Jarren Duran was recently called up for AAA, but it will be a bit to see how he adjusts to major league pitching. The team also lacks a true first-basemen. According to Fangraphs.com, the Red Sox rank last in the AL in defense at 1B. Anthony Rizzo can help to fix all these problems. He is a four-time Gold Glove winning first-baseman. He batted lead-off for the Cubs for years. Rizzo has struggled a bit at the plate this season. His average is .244 and his power number has dropped a bit, clubbing only 12 homeruns this season so far. Bobby Dalbec is the Sox everyday first-basemen right now but is only batting .218 with 10 homeruns. Dalbec is only 26, while Rizzo is going to turn 32 on August 8th. It could do Bobby some good to maybe watch and learn from a veteran player for the rest of the season, rather then having to face is struggles at the dish every day.
A Good Fit
Rizzo fits the needs of the Red Sox right now to make a playoff run, but what will it cost? Rizzo is set to make $16.5 million this season, the final of his current contract. Teams will be looking for a guy like Rizzo to be a rental as they try to win the World Series this year. This can bring cost down a bit, but the Cubs aren’t going to part with a guy like Rizzo for cheap. They’ll probably be looking to score a couple prospects, including a team’s top ten prospect. Would you be willing to trade prospects like a Blaze Jordan, Jarren Duran or even a Jeter Downs for a rental like Anthony Rizzo? Do you give up some of your future for increasing you chance of success right now? Oh, to be a baseball GM in late July.