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MLB Trade Deadline: Rays upgrade offense in Jesus Aguilar trade

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MLB Trade Deadline: Rays upgrade offense in Jesus Aguilar trade

With only one trade deadline this season, the time is now for MLB contenders to upgrade their rosters — and one of the Red Sox's biggest rivals in the wild card race did just that Wednesday afternoon.

The Rays have acquired first baseman Jesus Aguilar in a trade with the Brewers, reportedly sending right-handed pitcher Jake Faria to Milwaukee.

Aguilar broke out in a big way last season, when was an All-Star for the Brewers. He participated in the Home Run Derby and finished with 35 home runs and 108 RBI in 149 games. But he hasn't been able to sustain that success in 2019, as he's hitting just .225 with eight homers in 94 games — although he's picked it up recently, with a .921 OPS this month.

As for Faria, the 26-year-old has only made seven appearances in the majors this season after shifting from the starting rotation, where he made 26 starts over the last two years. 

Tampa enters play Wednesday with a 61-48 record, 7½ games behind the Yankees and 1½ games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. The Rays are also just one-half game out of the second wild card spot in a crowded American League field.

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Rafael Devers rejoins Red Sox workouts after COVID-19 scare

Rafael Devers rejoins Red Sox workouts after COVID-19 scare

Rafael Devers didn't work out with his teammates at Fenway Park for the first week of summer camp because the Red Sox feared he had been exposed to COVID-19.

After three tests came up negative, however, Devers was cleared to return and joined his teammates at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for live batting practice.

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He had been working out at Boston College with other possible positive cases, manager Ron Roenicke said, out of an abundance of caution.

"We had some guys that were possibly exposed to somebody with coronavirus," Roenicke said via Zoom on Wednesday. "This group has tested negative three times. We will continue to test them, just because we're being overly cautious. That's kind of why we've separated some of the guys from the later workouts."

Devers hopes to bat in Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage, Roenicke said, because he's anxious to lock in his timing at the plate against big league pitching. If all goes well, he'd likely play third base in Friday's scrimmage.

"He's concerned about seeing velocity," Roenicke said. "We were able to do that over there with him with the pitching machine in the cage. He'll do that again and see live BP today, which is helpful, and then if he's ready for a couple of at-bats, we'll have him in the intrasquad tomorrow."

Added Roenicke: "I know with him, he's a little concerned, because he's trying to catch up and make sure he's getting all the work in that he needs."

There's no overstating Devers' importance to the lineup after a breakout 2019 in which he hit .311 with 32 homers, 115 RBIs, and a league-leading 54 doubles and 359 total bases.

With Mookie Betts in Los Angeles, Devers is expected to be one of the driving forces in the lineup, alongside Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

 

Alex Verdugo already impressing Red Sox teammate Xander Bogaerts in camp

Alex Verdugo already impressing Red Sox teammate Xander Bogaerts in camp

The Boston Red Sox didn't acquire any top prospects or young stars in the trade that sent former American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this year.

The most MLB-ready player in the deal was outfielder Alex Verdugo, who could be an important part of Boston's lineup during the shortened 60-game season.

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Verdugo hit .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 106 games for the Dodgers last season. A back injury was expected to delay his readiness for the 2020 MLB season had it begun as scheduled in late March, but with the COVID-19 pandemic delaying Opening Day to July 24, the 24-year-old outfielder is now healthy and ready to get his Red Sox career going.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is impressed with what he's seen from Verdugo so far.

“I saw him take BP yesterday,” Bogaerts told reporters Tuesday in a Zoom call, per MassLive. “He was hitting that ball pretty good, to be honest. I was watching him from the top of my suite. He came here and he was hurt and he was getting treatments, so I didn’t see a lot of him while he was with us (in spring training). Obviously, only with the Dodgers. But he seemed pretty good and obviously that’s going to be a guy that we lean heavy on. And he’s healthy. So the more guys that are healthy, the better.”

The Red Sox should still have one of the best lineups in the AL this season, even without Betts' bat.

Boston's lineup consists of some really good hitters, most notably Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers. The Sox might have to slug their way to a postseason berth given the concerns over their pitching staff, particularly the starting rotation. A healthy and productive Verdugo would be a major asset for the Red Sox as they try to get off to a fast start once the regular season begins later this month.