BOSTON — The need for a reliever has long existed. The question as the trade deadline barrels upon us is whether the Sox should make a move for a position player, for an infielder or second baseman, in addition to a reliever.
Oh look, Brian Dozier’s in town. (Sox manager Alex Cora had no update Thursday on Dustin Pedroia, not that one was expected in what is looking like a lost season.)
As of now, a second baseman is not a priority for the Sox, a baseball source with knowledge of the Red Sox thinking said. But that could change before the deadline arrives, or in August.
The Sox have the worst production at second base in the league, per Baseball-Reference.com's wins above average measurement.
Nate Eovaldi joined the Sox roster on Thursday, and he’s to make his Sox debut in a start on Sunday. The righty may eventually help the Red Sox bullpen, be it in the postseason or in the regular season, depending on how things shake out with some injured starters (as well as Eovaldi’s own performance).
But he’s not the answer in the bullpen the Sox need now, and have needed really ever since the winter. Matt Barnes proving fallible on Thursday night in a 2-1 Red Sox loss wasn’t the tipping point there. Barnes is bound to blow a game occasionally. Even when Joe Kelly was doing particularly well, he still hadn’t turned his fastball into a swing-and-miss pitch.
By July 31, another pick-up for the Sox in the ‘pen would make a lot of sense. Too much sense.
Sox manager Alex Cora didn’t shoot down the idea on Thursday night, leaving the door open with a diplomatic answer when asked if outside relief help is needed.
“That’s a good question. It’s a tough question,” Cora said. “I do feel there’s a few guys in that clubhouse that we have to fix. We have to get them back to where they’re supposed to be, and we’ll be fine.”
But what about second base? Brock Holt has been one of the best stories of the 2018 season. But Holt came into Thursday with a .558 OPS in July, and Eduardo Nunez has never really gotten going.
Marco Hernandez was in the Sox clubhouse on Thursday night, and he's out for the season as well after three surgeries in 14 months. Second base wasn't supposed to be this way.
For all the talk of pitching at the deadline, it may be time for the Sox to focus additionally on improving an already excellent lineup.