After Deadline, Red Sox and Yankees Duel for East

A month ago, the Red Sox were the clear favorites to win the AL East after surging through June. But as July comes to a close, the Yankees and Rays have made major strides to tighten the race. As it stands today, New York leads the division by half a game, with the Red Sox second and the Rays three behind Boston. Clearly, the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are in this for the long haul.

Red Sox and Yankees

But that could all change – either for the better or for worse. Though, here’s a quick recap.

  • On July 18, the White Sox traded Robertson, Todd Frazier, and Tommy Kahnleto the Yankees for Blake Rutherford, Tyler Clippard, Ian Clarkin, and Tito Polo.
  • Last Sunday, the Red Sox called up top infield prospect Rafael Devers – but later traded for utility player Eduardo Nunez.
  • Thursday, the Rays traded minor league pitcher Drew Smith for Mets first baseman and left-handed hitter Lucas Duda. Further, the Rays also acquired relief pitcher Steve Cishek and Sergio Romo. This came after the Rays had also added Peter Bourjos and Trevor Plouffe earlier in the summer.
  • Monday morning, the Red Sox finalized a deal for Mets setup pitcher Addison Reed.
  • Monday afternoon, the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian. The night before, they traded for Twins pitcher Jaime Garcia and cash.

Trade Implications for Rays, Red Sox and Yankees

There is no question that the Yankees come out of July with the best chance on paper to win the division. Since having a dismal stretch in late June, New York has added three bona fide relievers, a middle of the order bat, and a proven regular right-handed starter. All of those moves filled significant holes on their roster and happened without giving up blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres.

From a pure roster standpoint, Tampa improved more than Boston did from where they stood two weeks ago. The core of the Red Sox has underperformed, but if the Sox can’t solve their offensive woes, then Tampa Bay could steal some games, especially considering their boosted bullpen and a slew of versatile position players.

Addison Reed clearly fills a major hole in the Red Sox bullpen. Matt Barnes and Robby Scott let yesterday’s game against Kansas City get away, much like they did weeks ago. And with the injuries to Joe Kelly, Carson Smith, and Tyler Thornburg, it was time for a change.

Breakdown

While the Yankees may have added more depth to their bullpen, the Red Sox have just as good of an 8/9th inning combo in Reed and Craig Kimbrel. Likewise, the Sox believe Devers and Nunez are just as much of an upgrade as Todd Frazier would have been.

Bottom line: The Sox may have slightly improved their team, but all of it hinges on the production of “pre-existing” players on the team. Meanwhile, the Rays and Yankees made significant upgrades. This ensures that this division won’t be decided in early August. The Red Sox and Yankees rivalry may, in fact, be back.

Sonny Gray is the Missing Piece to the Red Sox Rotation

The Boston Red Sox are on a historic pace offensively. However, some nights even the offense is incapable of bailing out the runs given up by the starting rotation. With Price rounding into form to go along with the solid seasons put together by Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, the Sox are two starting pitchers away from being serious World Series contenders. One of those starters is Eduardo Rodriguez who is nearing a return in theSonny Gray rotation. The other starter should be Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray, a guy the Sox must target at the 2016 MLB trade deadline.

Gray has had his struggles this season after posting a 2.73 ERA last season. The Sox
offense recently lit him up for seven earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched. However, the talent is there and the resume is there with Gray. He’s had two consecutive seasons with over 200 innings pitched and has been a reliable arm for the Athletics. He comes at a reasonable price for the Sox as well.

Gray is under team control through 2020. The Sox would likely have to ship out one of the top prospects in our farm system. The guy I would ship out would be Andrew Benintendi, the outfielder who was just recently promoted to Double A Portland. Benintendi would provide Oakland with a centerfielder to build an offense around. While it would be tough seeing Benintendi go, the Sox have the guys in place to deal him away. After all, starting pitching is essential to winning a world series.

Without a strong starting rotation, it is very tough to win it all, even with an offense as potent as the Red Sox. With Gray and Price, the Sox would have a solid one-two punch at the front end of their rotation, something the Sox have lacked for years. Acquiring him would also slide Porcello into the third spot in the rotation, a much more comfortable place for him to pitch. Porcello would be followed by Rodriguez and Wright in a very improved starting rotation. The pieces are there to pull it off, the question is whether or not Dave Dombrowski will do it.

Johnny Cueto Could be in Play in Free Agency

It’s no secret that the Red Sox need to improve their pitching in the off-season. There will be a few notable targets available in the, including Johnny Cueto. Cueto was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Royals at the MLB trade deadline in a short-term rental to help Kansas City try to get over the top in their quest to win a championship.

However, Johnny Cueto will be a free agent after the season finishes and he has left the Johnny Cuetodoor open for a move to Boston. Per WEEI, Johnny Cueto told Rob Bradford during Kansas City’s visit to Fenway Park that he would like to come here since Boston has a “championship-caliber team.” According to WEEI, Cueto, who is also friends with Hanley Ramirez, said that he would consider it and that anything was possible.

Red Sox fans, is it safe to start fantasizing about Johnny Cueto in a Red Sox uniform again? His name came up a couple of times during the trade deadline, and Cueto told Rob Bradford that he thought it might happen at one point. Then he was traded to Kansas City, which was a good move for them since they’re trying to win this year, but I don’t think they’ll try to re-sign him in the off-season.  It would take a lot of cash to get him back, so that could mean he comes into play for a team like Boston with the resources to sign him.

And make no mistake—it will take a big contract to get Johnny Cueto to come here. I’m sure the team will try to get Hanley Ramirez to help convince him to make the move to Boston. That is, if Dave Dombrowski doesn’t off load Hanley first, since Hanley is essentially a DH, and the Red Sox have that position covered, at least for the time being, with David Ortiz.

The Red Sox should definitely give Johnny Cueto a long, hard look in free agency. He’ll be one of the top pitchers available, along with David Price, and it sounds like he’d be open to hearing what the team has to say. So, if anyone from the Red Sox front office happens to read this, please at least talk to the guy. Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Red Sox May Benefit from Being Bad

Rejoice, Red Sox fans. All is not lost after the Red Sox stood pat at the July 31st trade deadline. It is possible that being bad could benefit the Red Sox. At the moment, the Red Sox are in possession of the worst record in the American League, which means they get first priority on waivers. That means the Red Sox could get first crack on a guy like Sonny Gray, should he become available, or any other player they want to claim on waivers.

This is significant because if a top starter is put on trade waivers, the Red Sox Red Soxwould get exclusive rights to negotiate for the guy. It doesn’t guarantee that they’ll get a deal done, but it does mean even if they can’t make a deal, they can figure out what it would take to get him in the off-season. That would give them a head start on any trade targets on guys they want to go after later.

This might not make any difference, but if the Red Sox get an ace out of it, it would be a big win for 2016. Forget about 2015. Any moves they make with this will, and should be, geared towards winning in 2016. It’s just good to think that maybe, just maybe, something could be done after an extremely disappointing trade deadline in which the Red Sox accomplished nothing significant towards possibly making 2016 better.

Red Sox Unlikely to Make Major Moves

This past season has been a massive disappointment for most of Red Sox Nation, to the point where one fan was caught on camera barfing from the right field deck during Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. But the most disappointing thing so far? Probably the fact that the team has yet to even attempt to make a major move this year. At least at this time last year, they were trying to make moves and trying to make the team better.

The return for dealing Jon Lester and John Lackey was a bad return on investment, to sayRed Sox the least, as none of the pieces they ultimately received has made much of an impact, but at least they made some kind of effort last year. This year is a different story, though. The front office hasn’t made much of an effort to even build for the future before the deadline this year, and barring something dramatic, that won’t happen this time around.

Mind you, something dramatic could still happen, but it seems unlikely that the Red Sox make a major move. Rumors are still out there that they could go after Tyson Ross and Craig Kimbrel on the San Diego Padres, but with the deadline this afternoon, it seems like a long shot.

I’m thinking this trade deadline will pass without the team making any major moves, which would be the worst possible outcome for the tea, but the good news is that they at least have a couple pieces to build around in the off-season, namely guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, but it would have been nice to see the Red Sox go out and get a veteran starter or bullpen help to make it easier, but the Red Sox would need a miracle at this point for that to happen.

The best we can hope for is that they can get someone in free agency, but that might be too much to expect at the moment.

Red Sox Talking to Padres on Ross, Kimbrel

In a surprising development, rumors are circulating that the Red Sox are engaged in trade talks with the San Diego Padres, who have many interesting players on the block.

The reports initially emanated from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who was informed by a source that Boston is seeking cost-controlled starting pitchers, and that Tyson Ross of San Diego could be a prime target in the waning deadline hours.Red Sox

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports later confirmed that report, and added that the Red Sox clearly have the prospects to expand a prospective deal to possibly include Craig Kimbrel, the Padres’ elite closer.

The Yankees have been heavily involved in negotiations for Kimbrel, who they would like to compliment Delin Betances and Andrew Miller in the creation of a super bullpen. New York executives worked through the night trying to hammer out a deal, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

However, Jon Heyman, the chief baseball insider at CBS, has also confirmed the Red Sox’ apparent interest in Kimbrel, who is widely considered one of the two best closers in the game.

At this point, it would appear to make little sense for the Red Sox to add Kimbrel, because there are few things more redundant in baseball than a premier closer on a 45-58 team. However, he is under contract through 2017, with an option for a further year, so Boston may be looking to add him as a cornerstone of a swift reboot. Alternatively, the Red Sox or Padres may have leaked word of Boston’s interest merely to boost the asking price and force the Yankees into a difficult position.

With barely six hours remaining until the deadline passes, we’ll know soon enough what Ben Cherington has in mind. Perhaps he’ll begin rebuilding in dramatic fashion, or perhaps he’ll stir the pot just enough to make his division rivals weaker in the medium-term future.