Red Sox's Top Players to Target and Avoid at 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2021

Red Sox's Top Players to Target and Avoid at 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    The Boston Red Sox have some work to do.

    With the Tampa Bay Rays breathing down their necks in the American League East standings, and the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays also still in the mix, they have by no means wrapped things up in the division race.

    The impending return of Chris Sale could wind up being the biggest addition they make to the roster in the coming weeks, but they will also be in the market for outside additions at first base, in the starting rotation and in the bullpen.

    With Red Sox first basemen hitting just .216/.260/.394 for a .654 OPS on the year, an upgrade there is arguably the most glaring need on their shopping list.

    Ahead we've highlighted one first baseman to target, one first baseman to avoid, as well as an under-the-radar starting pitcher they should be monitoring who should come cheaper than some of the top arms on the market.

Target: 1B Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Bobby Dalbec is hitting just .216/.259/.400 with a 37.2 percent strikeout rate serving as the primary first baseman for the Red Sox, so finding an upgrade won't be difficult.

    The Marlins look poised to sell, and RBI machine Jesus Aguilar would be a welcome addition to the middle of the Boston lineup, and one who comes with an additional year of club control before hitting free agency for the first time following the 2022 campaign.

    The 31-year-old is hitting .269/.330/.478 for a 119 OPS+ while tallying 15 doubles, 17 home runs and an NL-leading 68 RBI in 91 games.

    With a 113 OPS+ in eight MLB seasons, including a 35-homer, 108-RBI campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, he has a strong track record of production.

    Sticking on the Marlins roster, the left-handed hitting Garrett Cooper could also be of interest, though he is currently sidelined with an elbow injury.

Avoid: 1B C.J. Cron, Colorado Rockies

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    Derrick Tuskan/Associated Press

    The Colorado Rockies signed C.J. Cron to a minor league contract during the offseason, and he played his way onto the Opening Day roster with a strong spring.

    That modest investment has paid dividends as he has emerged as the everyday first baseman while hitting .248/.357/.476 for a 115 OPS+ with 12 doubles, 14 home runs and 41 RBI in 291 plate appearances.

    The 31-year-old had a 30-homer season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 and a 25-homer season with the Minnesota Twins in 2019, so power production is nothing new for the 2011 first-round pick.

    However, a look under the hood shows he has received a significant boost from playing in Coors Field this year.

    • Home: 158 PA, .272/.367/.588, 11 HR, 33 RBI
    • Away: 133 PA, .218/.346/.336, 3 HR, 8 RBI

    That .336 slugging percentage when he's not playing at altitude is a major red flag for a player whose value comes almost exclusively from his power production.

Target: LHP Tyler Anderson, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Red Sox do not necessarily need to gut the farm system with a trade for someone like Max Scherzer or Jose Berrios to bolster the starting rotation, but they would be wise to at least add some playable depth to the staff while they wait on Chris Sale to return.

    Left-hander Tyler Anderson is enjoying a quietly productive season with the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates after joining the club on a one-year, $2.5 million contract during the offseason.

    The 31-year-old has a 4.35 ERA in 103.1 innings, and a 4.28 FIP suggests his current level of production is sustainable.

    Those numbers don't jump off the page, but it's better production than the Red Sox have received from Nick Pivetta (4.37 ERA, 103 IP), Garrett Richards (4.91 ERA, 91.2 IP) and Eduardo Rodriguez (5.19 ERA, 95.1 IP) so far this year.

    With a 3.03 ERA and three quality starts in his last five appearances, Anderson is pitching well leading up to the deadline, and for a couple mid-level prospects, the Red Sox could add some welcome depth and stability to the starting staff.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.


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