Rafael Devers

Source: Red Sox eye reliever, right-handed bench help via trade

Source: Red Sox eye reliever, right-handed bench help via trade

BOSTON — As a six-game homestand begins and trade season picks up, the Red Sox have an eye on adding a reliever and a right-handed bat, a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said.

Trade plans can change and evolve in the next month, but the Sox see room to add a piece to complement their left-handed hitting infielders: Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers and Brock Holt. Adding a reliever and an infielder should not mean mortgaging an already thin farm system.

Alex Cora has barely used his bench this year. The Sox are tied for the third-fewest plate appearances as a pinch hitter, at 29. The pinch hitters have also done terribly, for whatever such a small sample size is worth, with a .074/.138/.111 line. The Sox have one extra-base hit and two hits total, the with the latter tying them for the fewest in the majors.

The Sox also have a .670 OPS against left-handed pitching overall, the fourth-worst mark in the majors and the worst in the American League. They may naturally rebound, but it’s a stark comparison to the two major league leaders: the Yankees, at .828, and Astros, at .805.

In a way, the Sox are in a similar position to last year: they added a right-handed bat in Eduardo Nunez and a reliever in Addison Reed. Both were solid contributors, Nunez beyond expectations. But Nunez this season has shown poor range in the field and has dipped significantly at the plate (.247). 

With uncertainty surrounding Dustin Pedroia’s health, the Sox presumably would want to add a bat that can handle second base as well as a potential corner infield spot. But, with Brock Holt competent at second base, the Sox might find it easier to find a corner infield type rather than an all-around utility infielder.

Devers is clearly a great talent who may be at the hot corner for years to come. But in the short term, the Sox have to consider late-inning defense in a playoff setting, and what can make the 2018 team the strongest it can be come October. Smart teams will find moments to target subpar defenders on the infield, and the Yankees and Astros are both smart teams. Devers may be a great defender down the road, but for now, the Sox may be wise to mitigate his learning curve.

As for the bullpen, the loss of Carson Smith for the season in combination with the slow progress of Tyler Thornburg has left a spot for the Sox to add a late-inning reliever. Arguably, that spot has existed since the offseason, when Reed left as a free agent, but Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes have stepped up admirably.

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Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

The Red Sox are interested in upgrading their bullpen by the July 31 trade deadline, but in seeking Padres lefty closer Brad Hand, Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that Rafael Devers would be San Diego's asking price.

Hand, 28, leads the National League with 28 saves, has a 2.25 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. Devers (.240, 12 HR, 36 RBI), the 21-year-old third baseman mentioned in trade rumors for the Orioles' Manny Machado, has heated up lately - he hit his third homer on the road trip Tuesday.

On Monday, Morosi reported that with Dustin Pedroia still out as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, Colorado Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu "could be a trade match" for the Red Sox. 

With Pedroia still experiencing pain and swelling in his knee and shut down from baseball activity, the Sox could be in the market for infield help. LeMahieu, 28, has seven homers, 23 RBI and a slash line of .281/.327/.453. The right-handed hitter is batting .351 against lefties. 

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Rosenthal: Red Sox and Orioles 'do not match up' on Machado trade

Rosenthal: Red Sox and Orioles 'do not match up' on Machado trade

As quickly as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and FOX Sports' MLB telecasts heated up the Manny Machado-to-the Red Sox rumors last week, his latest reporting does a lot to dispel them.

In a notes column published Monday (subscription required), Rosenthal reports that the Red Sox have contacted the Orioles about the would-be-free-agent infielder, who is thought to be the prize of the July 31 trade deadline, but Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski thinks the teams "likely do not match up on a trade at this time," according to a source.

In other words, the Red Sox really don't have the top minor league prospects the O's would be looking for in a Machado deal. The Sox farm system is ranked 24th in MLB by Baseball America and top hitter Michael Chavis was just suspended for 80-games for PED usage and top pitcher Jay Groome just had Tommy John surgery.

As for including 21-year-old Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers in a Machado deal, as NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich wrote last week, "sources with knowledge of the Red Sox thinking were dismissive of the idea the Sox would move Devers."


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