Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the needs of some contenders as we approach the July 31 trade deadline.
Boston Red Sox
First-half record: 55-35
Standings: Leading Yankees by 1 game, Rays by 6 games in AL East
Starting pitcher: The Red Sox thought they were set with a rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but three of their five starters are on the DL and no one in Boston wants to see Lackey start a postseason game. The Red Sox should be able to win the AL East or at least the wild card with what they have now, but it’d sure be nice to have additional options for October.
Right field: Free-agent-to-be J.D. Drew appears to be half-retired already. He’s hitting .229/.329/.317 with just 10 extra-base hits and 21 RBI in 18 at-bats for the season. On the plus side, the Red Sox do have an internal replacement available: Josh Reddick, who has been subbing in for an injured Carl Crawford in left, is hitting .393/.429/.672 in 70 at-bats. He already has as many extra-base hits as Drew. Still, he is unproven and the Red Sox might bypass him if the right opportunity comes along.
Bullpen: Bobby Jenks was supposed to be Boston’s third shutdown reliever alongside Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard, but he’s served two DL stints and amassed a 6.32 ERA in 19 appearances. The Red Sox will be shopping for a seventh-inning guy, preferably a left-hander.
Matt Garza (RHP Cubs): Garza has never fulfilled his promise, but the Red Sox know him well: he’s 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 career starts against Boston. He was also largely responsible for knocking the Red Sox out of the 2008 playoffs when he went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA for the Rays in the ALCS.
Garza for 3B Will Middlebrooks, RHP Kyle Weiland, LHP Felix Doubront and C Tim Federowicz
For the Cubs to move Garza, they’re going to want to make up for most of what they lost in getting him from the Rays over the winter. This deal doesn’t net them any elite prospects, but Middlebrooks is currently a better hope at third base than the Cubs’ former first-rounder Josh Vitters and both Weiland and Doubront are ready for extended opportunities to show what they can do in the majors.
The Red Sox could instead part with their top pitching prospect, Anthony Ranaudo, in place of Middlebrooks and one of the two arms.