Is Manny Machado the Missing Piece?

Red Sox fans know that July 31st is always an important date on the baseball calendar. It is the non-waiver trade deadline. The big prize this year will presumably be Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. Machado is having his usual MVP caliber year hitting over .300, with more than 50 runs batted in at the halfway point. He will be a free agent this offseason and will inevitably demand a big payday. The Orioles are already 29.5 games back and will likely look to get assets for their current star this summer.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette wants a current promising major leaguer in anyMachado package. Usually, the Red Sox have a lot of assets and clout at their disposal during this time of year, enough to make a generous offer for such a player. However, most of those prospects have been either promoted or traded. Top prospects Michael Chavis, unfortunately, is suspended for PEDs and Jason Groome is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Therefore, the main pieces in any deal would probably be from the big league club.

With young star players such as Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi seemingly off the table, the logical name becomes Red Sox third baseman, Rafael Devers. Devers gives the Orioles some young pop, the talent now and for the future. Meanwhile, Machado, who has third base experience, could slide to the hot corner and not only improve the offense, but the defense. He’s a gold-glover at that position, meanwhile, Devers currently leads the position in errors.

Manny Machado Could Be the Missing Championship Piece

The problem with Machado is the impending free agency. Devers is under team control and the Red Sox will be risking taking on the free-agent to be and him not signing long-term with the team. However, that risk may be worth it considering how much he would improve the team this season. Dombrowski would want to have an initial talk with Machado about a framework of an extension, before dealing Devers. Devers is too good to let go for a rental.

The other caveat, of course, is Machado’s recent disdain for the Red Sox organization. Last year he was involved in the Red Sox-Orioles second base, year-long confrontation with Pedroia. This could be an issue. Many thought Machado went in too strong at second and Pedroia wasn’t happy. That caused a back and forth between the teams, with pitchers throwing at different batters, causing Machado to say “I’ve lost respect for that organization”. Now that seems to be a distant memory. The Orioles are almost irrelevant and Machado probably wants a shot at playing for a title. Also, Alex Cora is now at the helm for the Red Sox, not John Farrell. This could change Machado’s thoughts on the franchise.

Red Sox Need Another Reliever

21-7 in April looks great. That record start had Red Sox fans dreaming of the duck boatsred sox reliever in November. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, starters look potent and manager Alex Cora is pushing all the right buttons. However, are they flawless? The Red Sox could target another reliever.

To start off May, Kimbrel blew a 3-2 save opportunity, after Royals’ Alex Gordon hammered a fastball into the stands. While that may certainly simply be a rare fluke by Kimbrel, what about the rest of the bullpen?

Red Sox Should Target Another Reliever

Matt Barnes has been reliable. He has posted a sub-three ERA in 12 games thus far. Cora seems to like him as his 8th inning guy and with each successful outing, confidence seems to grow for Barnes. Confidence and control have been issues in Barnes’ recent career though.

Velazquez has done well, posting 8 straight innings without allowing a run. But as the season goes on, Cora may rather keep him as a long relief option, or as the “6th guy” in case of an injury to the rotation. Other than that, the bullpen has been suspect. Joe Kelly has become a fan favorite after his altercation with Yankees’ Tyler Austin. Fans have seen all the “Joe Kelly fight club” tee-shirts, but his swing and miss production on his fastball must improve.

Could Tyler Thornburg be the guy?

In the 2016 off-season, Dombrowski dealt promising 1B/3B Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for their then dominant set up man Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg was supposed to be the 8th inning bridge to Kimbrel on paper. He, however, has yet to make his Red Sox debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. Thornburg recently struck out the side in his AAA game, in Pawtucket and could be fast-tracked to the big leagues. However, it is tough to count on success after injury, even with prior dominance.

A Tip for Dombrowski

Last trade deadline, Dombrowski acquired Addison Reed from the Mets. Reed had the past success, durability and swing and miss stuff desired in a set-up man. Reed posted a 3.33 ERA in 29 games in the second half of the season for the Red Sox. He came up big before the playoffs and also was the guy to give Kimbrel some much needed rest in September.

I expect Dombrowski to do the same this deadline and acquire a Reed-like arm for their title run.