It’s time for Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and his team of executives in the front office to start fielding calls and working the phones, as it’s officially trade season.
The Red Sox have some time before the July 31 trade deadline and appear to be buyers at the moment. It will be interesting to see what Cherington has up his sleeve this summer. Last summer, as many remember, Boston pulled off a major haul, trading some lucrative contracts to the Dodgers.
Will the Red Sox be part of any blockbuster deals this season?
Boston currently holds a 4.5-game lead in the American League East, and with all four teams still in contention, it’s essential Cherington fixes the organization’s problems in order to make the postseason. Calling up prospects isn’t going to be enough. The Red Sox must acquire a few players before the deadline.
Cherington and the front office should be very busy as the deadline approaches. As news breaks from Fenway Park, this tracker will be updated with everything you need to know. Rumors will be posted on a daily basis, and any trades that happen will be analyzed and graded. Be sure to follow along in the upcoming weeks.
Boston Gets: Matt Thornton, Cash
Chicago Gets: Brandon Jacobs
The official Twitter account of the Boston Red Sox announced Friday, July 12 that the organization had completed a deal that would send minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Alex Speier of WEEI reports Boston will receive cash as well.
Thornton has appeared in 40 games this season, posting a 3.86 ERA in 28 innings of work. He’s averaged 6.75 strikeouts and 3.21 walks per nine innings. The lefty has been good against lefties, but poor against righties this season. Lefty opponents are hitting .170 off him, but righty opponents are hitting .314.
Jacobs hit .247/.335/.448 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI through 84 games this season between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. A power hitter, the outfielder has hit 47 home runs and driven in 216 runs throughout his professional career—385 games across five seasons.
Good job, Cherington. The Red Sox general manager recognized a need and did something about it. Boston has lacked left-handed relievers with Franklin Morales battling injuries and Andrew Miller now out for the year after recently injuring his foot. Thornton will be the only lefty in the pen besides Craig Breslow.
Jacobs was never a part of the big picture, so it isn’t a big deal that the Red Sox got rid of him. The only problem with this trade is that Thornton isn’t capable of doing what Miller frequently did. Thornton is really only going to be able to come in and face one hitter. He likely won’t be tossing one-plus inning per appearance.
But Boston really needed another lefty. Thornton will definitely aid the bullpen, and if he only faces a batter or two every time Farrell puts him into the game, it's not the end of the world. It's a move that had to be made by the Red Sox at this point in the season, and it's a good one.
POSTED: June 8
The Red Sox will be monitoring the trade market to see if a third baseman worth acquiring is up for grabs, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Boston’s problem is that Will Middlebrooks—who was great in 2012 but missed a large chunk of the year with a wrist injury—has suffered a massive sophomore slump.
Through 53 games, Middlebrooks is hitting .192/.228/.389 with nine home runs and 25 RBI. He drew just nine walks and struck out 60 times in 216 plate appearances. Middlebrooks’ struggles at the plate forced Boston to send him to the minor leagues. He’s currently playing for Triple-A Pawtucket.
In Middlebrooks’ absence, Jose Iglesias—who is really a shortstop—has seen plenty of time at the hot corner. In 44 games, the formerly abysmal hitter is batting .403/.455/.516 with 13 extra-base hits and 24 runs. He’s also played well defensively, even though he had never played the position in the past.
While some may believe Middlebrooks will return to Boston in the near future and bounce back, the Red Sox have to prepare for a scenario in which he continues to be a disaster at the plate. Acquiring someone who can aid Iglesias at third base wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
POSTED: June 8
Boston’s bullpen has been very inconsistent throughout the year, especially late in games. Finding a closer who isn’t going to blow a save every other day has been a major problem for the franchise in 2013. Joel Hanrahan didn’t work out. Neither did Andrew Bailey—twice.
Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have been Boston’s top two relievers this season, but the Red Sox can’t throw them on the mound on a daily basis. Boston’s bullpen currently ranks 10th in the league in WAR, per FanGraphs, but the Red Sox still need to add a reliever who can handle the pressure and won’t get injured.
Matt Thornton, a lefty for the Chicago White Sox, is on the list of potential targets for the Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Thornton has a 3.04 ERA in 38 appearances and 26.2 innings of work this season. He usually pitches in the seventh or eighth inning for the White Sox.
Thornton is exactly what Boston needs. Franklin Morales has battled injuries all season long, and now Andrew Miller is on the disabled list as well. That leaves Craig Breslow as the only left-handed option in the bullpen. If the Red Sox can get their hands on Thornton, it would greatly improve Boston’s collection of relievers.
POSTED: June 8
It appears this is going to be another year in which rumors surrounding Matt Garza coming to the Red Sox fly around. Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required) reports that Boston is one of the teams engaging in talks with the Chicago Cubs about acquiring the veteran right-hander.
Garza spent some time on the disabled list this season with shoulder issues and has made just nine starts in 2013. When Garza has taken the mound, however, he has been effective. He’s 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 57.1 innings of work to go along with a 8.16 strikeouts per nine innings rate and a 2.83 walks per nine innings rate.
The Red Sox have been without Clay Buchholz for a couple of weeks, but once he comes back, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be an opening for another starter. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe feels the same way. He questions which starter would come out of the rotation if Boston were to land someone.
Boston currently has the sixth-best rotation in baseball in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Jon Lester is a lock to stay in the rotation and so is John Lackey, who has really turned things around this season. Felix Doubront needs to continue to develop. Could Ryan Dempster be the odd man out? That doesn’t seem likely either.