Boston Red Sox: 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups That Could Spark a Run to AL Playoffs

Douglas SiborContributor IAugust 13, 2012

Boston Red Sox: 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups That Could Spark a Run to AL Playoffs

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    After a weekend series in Cleveland that did not go as hoped, the Boston Red Sox will need a torrid finish if they hope the make the American League playoffs in 2012.

    Although their roster as presently constituted does not appear good enough to get them there, the Sox can bolster their team with a trade before the August 31 waiver deadline.

    Although most available players are not of star quality, many would provide something the Sox desperately need. Chief among these needs, obviously, is starting pitching.

    The Sox starting staff’s ERA presently stands at 4.80, the fifth-worst mark in the AL. Their struggles, more than anything else, have led to the team’s 57-59 record and fourth-place standing in the AL East.

    With Will Middlebrooks likely out for the season with a broken wrist, the Sox are also in the market for a stopgap third baseman. Their relief pitching, too, has struggled of late, and the bullpen could perhaps use one additional, fresh arm to finish out the year.

    Although the wild card is still within reach (they are still just 5.5 games back, despite their struggles), the Sox need a strong final push if they want to have any shot at playing in October. Here are 10 players who, if acquired, may help spur the Sox to a miraculous playoff berth:

Josh Johnson

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    The Sox have been linked to Johnson since before the July 31 deadline. Should the Marlins place him on waivers, the Sox would likely come calling again. With the Marlins’ asking price sure to be high, this would be a tough deal for the Sox to consummate.

    However, Johnson’s past success makes it at least worth a shot.

    Johnson earned consecutive All-Star appearances in 2009 and 2010 before a shoulder injury ended his 2011 season after just nine starts. He has been solid in his return to the mound this year, although it remains to be seen if he can rediscover his pre-injury form.

    At 28 years old and under contract for next year at a reasonable (for an “ace”) $13.75 million, Johnson represents a best-case scenario for the Sox in the typically barren waiver trade market.

Jair Jurrjens

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    After an All-Star season in 2011 during which the right-hander posted a 2.96 ERA, Jurrjens’ performance has plummeted in 2012.

    His horrific 6.89 ERA and 1.862 WHIP even forced him down to the minors this season, where he made 11 starts for Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate.

    Although it would have seemed impossible just a year ago, the 26-year-old is very much available and could be had for a low price. He would be a low-risk proposition for the Sox; if he does not perform, they can simply non-tender him in the offseason and be rid of him.

    If Jurrjens can rediscover some of what made him such a promising prospect, though, he would provide a huge lift to the Sox's starting staff.

Matt Thornton

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    Although the Red Sox already have two strong left-handed options out of the bullpen in Andrew Miller and the recently acquired Craig Breslow, Thornton would further bolster what has lately been a bit of a trouble spot.

    The recent struggles of the Sox bullpen have shown that the team needs perhaps one more good arm to get through the rest of the season.

    While several good internal options exist and Andrew Bailey is close to returning, a proven performer like Thornton (3.00 ERA over 321 appearances in the last five seasons) would be a huge pickup.

Bronson Arroyo

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    Red Sox fans everywhere have fond memories of Arroyo, the formerly cornrowed right-hander who was shipped out of town in exchange for Wily Mo Peña back in spring training of 2006.

    A move that seemed questionable then, looks downright foolish now, as Arroyo has gone on to post several solid seasons for the Reds, while Peña flopped for the Sox. The Sox would certainly welcome Arroyo back with open arms, as he has posted a solid 3.95 ERA and 1.232 WHIP in Cincinnati this season.

    While it’s unlikely the first-place Reds would be looking to move him, Arroyo could be due as much as $15 million next season. With such a hefty price tag looming, the Reds may look to sell high on a pitcher who will turn 36 in the offseason.

Randy Wolf

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    Having already dumped Zack Greinke, the struggling Brewers are obviously looking to clear out pricey veterans from their roster and rebuild around Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo.

    Wolf is certainly a player they’d love to move. After a strong 2011 season, the left-hander has struggled in 2012; his ERA has not dipped below 5.06 all season, and he has given up the most hits per nine innings (11.0) of his entire career.

    Because of his poor performance, though, Wolf would likewise come at practically no cost. The team holds a $10 million option for next season, which will surely be declined regardless of where he finishes the year. It’s a no-risk proposition and, quite honestly, what do the Sox have to lose? 

Roy Oswalt

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    Remember all the hubbub about the Sox needing to sign Oswalt?

    After the veteran right-hander posted a 5.53 ERA over seven starts and was subsequently demoted to the bullpen, it looks like the Sox made the right choice in not aggressively pursuing him.

    Now, though, is a prime opportunity for them to strike. Given Oswalt’s poor performance, Texas would relish the opportunity to be rid of him, and the pitcher would likely welcome the opportunity to start again somewhere else.

    His concerns about being close to home don’t seem as important now, given how little time remains in the season. If he wants to restore his value heading into the offseason and the Sox want a proven starter at a low cost, it makes sense for both sides for Oswalt to come to Boston.

Placido Polanco

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    The budget-slashing Phillies have been shipping veterans out of town as quickly as possible, and the 36-year-old Polanco is another prime candidate to go. With the injury to Will Middlebrooks, the Sox are suddenly in the market for a stopgap at third base to finish out the season.

    Polanco would be an excellent fit.

    The versatile infielder won a Gold Glove for his work at third base last season, and he has provided the Phillies with strong veteran leadership over his three-plus seasons there.

    This stabilizing presence could go a long way toward quieting the turmoil around this Sox team and putting the focus on baseball. If both sides enjoy working with each other, Polanco can be brought back next season on a mutual $5.5 million option as well.

Carlos Marmol

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    Marmol enjoyed a brilliant start to his career, earning an All-Star appearance as a set-up man in 2008 and winning the closer’s job in 2010. However, he has been quite an enigma ever since.

    After blowing 10 saves last season and losing the job in early May of this year, Marmol looked like he was on his way out. However, after winning the job back in the middle of June, he has once again been excellent (3.06 ERA, no blown saves).

    Despite Marmol’s recent run of success, GM Theo Epstein would likely move him for the right price. Marmol has almost as many walks (33) as innings pitched (35.1), and his $9.8 million price tag for 2013 is surely more than the Cubs would like to pay for him.

    The right-hander would add a power arm to the back of the Sox’s struggling bullpen, something they could sorely use right now.

Jed Lowrie

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    When Lowrie was crushing the ball in the opening months of the season and Mark Melancon was toiling away in Triple-A, it looked like Sox GM Ben Cherington had been bested in his first major move.

    With Lowrie once again proving injury-prone and Melancon slowly righting himself, what was once a lopsided trade does not look so bad for the Sox anymore.

    With the Astros perpetually retooling and Lowrie proving to be exactly what everyone thought, he may be made available. The reason he was so valuable to the Sox in recent years makes him equally valuable now: his versatility.

    He can man third base with Will Middlebrooks out, and can also fill in at all other infield positions should one of the regulars need a break. While it would likely take a solid everyday player to get him back, the Sox should seriously consider it.

Kevin Millwood

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    Red Sox fans likely forget that Millwood actually played for the Sox organization before, making 13 starts for Triple-A Pawtucket before being released in August of last season.

    He has enjoyed a solid bounceback year for the Mariners, posting a 4.38 ERA in 22 starts. Given his age (37), Seattle’s position in the standings (last) and his impending free agency, Millwood would likely be available for a small price.

    While he is no longer the stopper he was with Atlanta, Millwood has proven this season that he still knows how to get hitters out. For a Red Sox starting staff that has proven increasingly inept at that task, he could provide a big boost over the season’s final six weeks.