With the 2011 MLB Trading Deadline coming up this Sunday, many rumors and speculations have surrounded the first place, Boston Red Sox. Holding one of the best records in baseball, the strong core of the team is, as I said in my column yesterday, intact.
When I set my eyes on several sports news outlets looking to hear the big Boston rumors, I hear names such as Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Hunter Pence, and other top names brought up.
Again, I claimed in my previous column that a major deal will not happen and is not necessary. But I do believe Boston will make a move or two in order to bolster the few spots that they need improvement on.
I expect no deal in which some superstar will head to Beantown for half a year and then head to the free agent market at the expense of the farm system.
But selling a few prospects to get a swell rounded addition to the team? Why not?
Today, I will be analyzing some realistic possibilities for potential trade targets to head towards Boston. Theo Epstein works to the most of is ability each and every year at this time to give the team all they need to reach the pennant, and this year shall be no different in terms of effort.
What will be different is the fact that Boston will not headline ESPN with some gigantic deal. The Red Sox do not need that this year, especially with Adrian Gonzalez costing Boston the elite in their farm system.
Who could be on their way to Boston? Let's find out...
One of the parts of the roster that Theo Epstein has shown interest in building up is the bullpen. Although it is quite stable, it could always use a much needed tuneup with two months left in the season. Former Red Sox, Craig Breslow of the Oakland Athletics seems to fit the mold that Boston is inquiring for.
Currently sporting an 0-2 record with a 3.38 ERA, Breslow is not in the league of someone on the market such as, Heath Bell or Mike Adams. However, Boston doesn't need a game changing relief pitcher at the cost of two or three prospects. Breslow may not be dominant each and every time he steps on the mound, but he's a consistent player.
In his last ten games, Breslow has only allowed two earned runs and has struck out seven batters in his last seven innings. Is he Mike Adams? No, but he's a very consistent pitcher that could be a nice addition to any team's bullpen.
The best part? He will not cost nearly as much as the other pitchers on the market. He could be a valuable, consistent part to a well rounded bullpen and become the left handed pitcher they need.
He is reportedly on Boston's radar and I could easily see Breslow sporting the red socks after July 31st.
In a weak market, Randy Choate has shown signs of dominance for the Florida Marlins this year.
A very underrated pitcher, Choate has an ERA below 2 and has 26 punch outs in 20 innings pitched. That is not shabby and there is no doubt that Boston should pursue him.
There are many other teams interested in Choate including Boston's rivals, the New York Yankees. Choate would make a big difference in any teams' bullpen, but his asking price may be a little high for Boston. Unlike Breslow, Choate should come at the price of at least one pretty well regarded prospect.
The 35 year old is under contract for the 2012 season as well, which adds to his initial value. While some would not think Boston would sacrifice some players to acquire, Choate, I feel as though with New York in the hunt, Boston would be open to making a standard offer.
Choate comes at a higher price, which makes me wonder whether or not Boston will make their move. But in the end, Boston will make some strong efforts to add this man to their bullpen.
The 32 year old outfielder is having an average season with a batting average below, .250, but has a little pop in his bat with fifty runs batted in.
The Red Sox have shown interest in the soon to be free agent, but have been turned away due to his heavy asking price. If Oakland is desperate enough to sell Willingham and no team remains truly happy with the Athletics' expectations in return, they will be forced to slow the pace on this deal.
Once Carlos Beltran leaves New York, Willingham is one of the only other outfielders on the market teams are looking at. Boston has not been pursuing anybody with true desperation, and with the surging Josh Reddick dominating at the plate, some may not see a need for Willingham to be on the Sox.
While I feel that Josh is not what Boston needs, he could help in the outfield as a reliable bench player who could get some time in right field alongside, Reddick.
Theo Epstein has shown interest in a veteran bat to bolster the team's offense in right field, and Willingham seems to be a likely candidate to pursue.
Will he be traded to Boston? Who knows.
I wouldn't be totally surprised to see Boston part ways with one decent prospect and various other guys in the farm for Willingham and Breslow.
The personification of versatility, Ty Wigginton would make a perfect fit in Boston.
Known to hit well and work at almost every position imaginable, Wigginton would be well worth trading for. With two years of options also coming with Wigginton, I say, why not? Boston could easily ship off one or two decent prospects and a player to be named later for Wigginton, and I feel it would be well worth it.
With Kevin Youkilis's status in question and Theo Epstein's interest in a veteran presence in the outfield, Wigginton could fit into the Boston mold.
Other team, notably the Pirates have shown interest in Wigginton's services, but I feel Boston will inquire more as we near the Trade Deadline.
Wiggingotn would not be an impact player that will lead Boston to three more World Series championship victories, but he could be a versatile option with some pop in his bat.
His cost would be hefty in terms of what Boston has been rumored to want to spend, but with all Wigginton brings to the table, I see him being a very realistic option for Boston to look at.
Let's throw the 3-12 record aside, the Mariners are not good for any pitcher when it comes to run support.
With a 3.33 ERA with 89 strikeouts Fister could provide the presence in the back of the order that Boston is starting to need. Someone such as Jason Varagas would also be a formidable addition, but he'd come at a far higher price than Fister.
Doug Fister will not provide the presence that other players on the market will establish, but Fister is a far better option than someone such as Andrew Miller, who has struggled in his past three starts. Miller also has struggled against the American league following his strong outings against the National League.
Seattle will likely be a lot more lenient towards a better deal with Boston opposed to a deal for someone such as, Vargas. Again, he is no Cy Young contender, but he is a solid backstop with a chance to succeed with a lineup as powerful as Boston's.
A need for a starter is becoming more and more apparent, and Doug Fister could be a quality boost for the end of Boston's rotation.
Before I hear in the comments section that these options "won't happen" or "are not THE top" guys that Boston will seek, I feel these are five of the best names that Boston would realistically look to grab by the Trading Deadline.
Boston does not need an impact player, rather some small pieces to the puzzle that could always spice up the team before the playoff race. There is much depth already within the team, but it is obvious that Theo Epstein wants a name or two that he believes will give the Red Sox a final push towards the playoffs.
Some of the best acquisitions are those that come from within. The return of Jon Lester on Monday proved there isn't much need to worry and Clay Buchholz is in the midst of preparation of his impending return in the coming weeks.
However, someone in the back of the rotation could help. Some quality relief pickups and maybe a utility player will without a doubt help Boston, without totally wiping out the remnants of their farm system. You could always trade a high regarded prospect such as, Lars Anderson who will likely not see the playing time in Boston where he would somewhere else due to the presence of Adrian Gonzalez.
Is a major blockbuster necessary? No. Could Boston use some small enhancements? Absolutely.