Potential Red Sox trade targets from MLB's worst rosters
When trade deadline season arrives, it's best to start at the bottom. Contenders don't sell, they buy. The middle of the pack waffles, because even an outside shot at the second wild card might be worth pursuing. That leaves the also-rans.
Only a handful of teams are truly, hopelessly out of it. If we set the cutoff at a 15-game wild card deficit, that leaves five teams — the Blue Jays, Tigers, Royals, Orioles, and Marlins. (It's worth noting that every NL team besides Miami is within 6.5 games of a playoff berth).
These teams aren't miles from contention because they're talented, so it's not as if raiding their rosters will yield a smorgasbord of delights. They'll instead need to be picked at like rotting carrion amidst a flock of vultures.
But that doesn't mean they can't provide some sustenance. In that vein, here are 10 players — two from each of the also-rans — who could interest contenders like the Red Sox between now and the hard trade deadline of July 31.
Blue Jays — Marcus Stroman, Ken Giles
Stroman figures to be the prize of the deadline, and he's likely too expensive for the Red Sox, who will be looking to upgrade around the fringes. The 28-year-old right-hander was just named to his first All-Star team after going 5-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 18 starts. The New York native has made no secret of his willingness to pitch for the Yankees, and he's reasonably priced ($7.4 million salary) with one more year of arbitration eligibility.
Giles ($6.3 million) is in a similar situation, arbitration-wise, and is in the midst of an excellent season, with 13 saves and a 1.45 ERA. He has struck out 53 in 31 innings, and though he took Thursday's loss against the Red Sox on an opposite-field homer by Marco Hernandez, his upper-90s fastball and closing experience in Philly, Houston, and Toronto should intrigue any contender.
Tigers — Matthew Boyd, Shane Greene
The Red Sox have scouted both pitchers recently, and both should be on their radar. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski acquired both of them during his time running the Tigers: the former from the Blue Jays for David Price at the 2015 trade deadline, and the latter at the 2014 winter meetings in the three-way deal that sent Didi Gregorius to the Yankees.
Boyd is a 28-year-old left-hander making $2.6 million with three more years of team control before becoming a free agent in 2023. He's 6-6 with a 3.87 ERA and is striking out a career-high 11.9 batters per nine innings. One red flag: he has allowed 19 home runs, including 12 in his last six starts. That said, Detroit's asking price is expected to be through the roof, thanks to his youth and arbitration status.
As for Greene, the 30-year-old owns a 1.09 ERA and 22 saves en route to his first All-Star appearance. He strikes out roughly a batter an inning and has transitioned to closer over the last two seasons after two years in middle relief. Unlike most closers, he rarely throws a four-seam fastball, instead relying on a cutter and sinker.
Orioles — Trey Mancini, Andrew Cashner
The Red Sox aren't expected to look at offensive upgrades with their pitching in disarray, but someone is going to pay a hefty price for Mancini, who did not receive Baltimore's lone All-Star spot (that went to left-hander John Means), but could've earned his way to Cleveland on merit alone.
Mancini is hitting .300 with 17 homers, 40 RBIs, and an .888 OPS. He also provides the potential for versatility at first base or either corner outfield spot. Rookie GM Mike Elias has already suggested that Baltimore will listen on Mancini, who provides right-handed pop and won't be eligible for free agency until 2023. Whoever acquires him wouldn't just be receiving an immediate upgrade, but a long-term building block.
The same cannot be said of Cashner, a 32-year-old who has bounced back from a horrible 2018 to go 8-3 with a 4.03 ERA. His underlying numbers (4.43 FIP, 6.2 K/9) are by no means elite, but that's the point: he should be available for relatively little, and with nine quality starts in 16 turns, he'd be just what the back of the Red Sox rotation needs.
Royals — Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy
While All-Star utilityman Whit Merrifield should draw extensive interest, he's not a realistic target for the Red Sox. Duffy and Kennedy could be, though.
The former is 3-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 13 starts, while the latter has saved 11 games while striking out over a batter an inning. Kennedy is the more intriguing target from a Red Sox perspective. Since moving to the bullpen this year after two disastrous seasons as a starter, he has been lights out.
He has still has one year remaining on the five-year, $70 million contract he signed in 2016, so the Royals will likely need to subsidize some portion of the deal, no matter where he ends up. But after 12 seasons as a starter, the 34-year-old is experiencing an unexpected renaissance in relief.
Marlins — Sergio Romo, Nick Anderson
Some team is going to acquire Romo to bolster its bullpen and that team is almost surely going to be disappointed. The 36-year-old has saved 15 games for a terrible Marlins team, but his 4.35 ERA and career-worst walk rate of 3.8 per nine and strikeout rate of 7.3 suggest diminished stuff.
Anderson, meanwhile, fits the Red Sox mold as a fastball-curveball pitcher who wouldn't look out of place on a staff that includes Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman. His strikeout rate of 14.5 per nine ranks right in between Barnes (16.1) and Workman (12.5).
The former independent leaguer is 28 and wouldn't seem to have much long-term value to a Marlins club in a perpetual rebuild.