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3 Boston Red Sox trade targets to improve their postseason outlook

Matt Johnson

The Boston Red Sox have put their fans on a rollercoaster through the first half of the 2022 season. As the trade deadline approaches, though, Boston finds itself squarely in the MLB postseason race with plenty of room for improvement.

It all started poorly for the Red Sox. After being swept by the Chicago White Sox in early May, Boston sat nine games below the .500 mark. MLB trade rumors swirled about Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez becoming trade candidates. Suddenly, the BoSox slowly started turning things around.

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The real turnaround happened in June. Boston posted a 20-6 record, right behind the New York Yankees (22-6) and ahead of American League contenders like the Houston Astros (16-9) and Toronto Blue Jays (15-13). Soon enough, the Red Sox landed in the playoff bracket with increasing optimism for October baseball.

July hasn’t been quite as kind to the club, posting a sub-.500 record with series losses to AL East foes. With a roster that includes Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, leading the MLB MVP race, a few moves at the trade deadline could push this roster over the top.

Let’s examine three potential Boston Red Sox trade targets and what it might cost to land them.

Tyler Mahle traded to Boston Red Sox

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Frankie Montas or Luis Castillo are the preferred targets Boston Red Sox fans want to see. However, each of those front-line starters comes with an exorbitant asking price and a field of buyers who will only make things more costly. As a result, it seems like executive Chaim Bloom would go in another direction.

Enter Tyler Mahle. Similar to Castillo and Montas, he is under team control through the 2023 season. He also shares another similarity with Montas, both players are currently sidelined with minor shoulder issues. Assuming Mahle is cleared before Aug. 2, he is an intriguing target.

  • Boston Red Sox trade: Bobby Dalbec, Wilkelman Gonzalez, Jay Groome
  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Tyler Mahle

Mahle got off to a miserable start in 2022, posting a 7.01 ERA with 14 walks and 30 hits allowed in his first 25.2 innings. It was a concerning development, but Mahle turned things around. In his last 10 starts before July, Mahle posted a 3.50 ERA. From May 4-June 30, he ranked 13th in K-BB rate (21%) and 22nd in lowest batting average allowed (.210) all with a 1.09 WHIP.

There is also an incentive to free him from Cincinnati. In 2021, Mahle posted a 2.30 ERA with a .204/.280/.298 slash line and .577 OPS in 101.2 innings on the road compared to a 5.63 ERA with a .270/344/.511 slash and .855 OPS at Great American Ballpark. Getting him out of Cincinnati could unlock a high-end No. 3 starter.

There is one negative with Mahle that Boston must consider. He missed the series against the Toronto Blue Jays because he is unvaccinated, the same problem the Red Sox have with a few players on the roster. It’s a factor we considered, but Mahle being cheaper to acquire than Castillo and Montas made a bigger difference.

Josh Bell takes over at first base

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A trade for a Washington Nationals slugger to fill the void at first base worked out nicely in 2021 for the Boston Red Sox. While Josh Bell would only be a half-season solution, that’s all the team needs with Triston Casas likely just a year away from taking over.

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Boston can’t tolerate its current situation at first base. Purely in terms of offensive production, Red Sox first basemen rank 27th in wRC+ (78), OPS (.635) and 26th in wOBA (.282). It’s not tolerable for a team attempting to compete with the Yankees and Astros.

  • Boston Red Sox acquire: Josh Bell
  • Washington Nationals acquire: Blaze Jordan, Noah Song, Connor Wong

Blaze Jordan should be a prospect Boston happily parts with for any player who can make a meaningful impact this year. Once a big name out of high school, the 19-year-old still hasn’t shown enough to prove he’ll be an everyday player within the next four years.

Meanwhile, Bell steps in as a switch-hitter with an outstanding .304/.386/.491 slash line. He offers dependable power, is incredibly patient at the plate (13.6% K rate vs 10.9% walk rate) and his track record speaks for itself.

Related: Boston Red Sox could draft Kumar Rocker

Boston Red Sox bullpen adds Tanner Scott

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the Miami Marlins are going to be sellers at the deadline, Boston needs to make a call. The Red Sox are entering the middle of July with a 3.63 ERA from the bullpen. It’s tolerable if this club doesn’t have aspirations of even contending for the ALCS. If Bloom wants to be aggressive, Tanner Scott should be one of his prioritized targets.

The 27-year-old southpaw might be on the costly side for a relief pitcher. He is under team control through 2024, meaning the Red Sox would be landing a high-end reliever for multiple seasons. With that said, the Marlins have more than enough pitching and that could make him a trade candidate.

  • Miami Marlins trade: Tanner Scott
  • Boston Red Sox trade: Jeter Downs

Scott’s stuff out of the bullpen is phenomenal. According to Baseball Savant, he ranks in the 97th percentile for Whiff rate, 92nd percentile for fastball velocity and 98th percentile for fastball spin. He also boasts a 105.8 Pitching+ in the model created by Eno Sarris of The Athletic.

Fans will need to look past the 4.04 ERA, largely the result of some command issues (13.9% walk rate). Scott boasts the talent to be an outstanding set-up man in Boston and he’s even more valuable as a southpaw. If the Boston Red Sox could acquire two of these players, it would make them winners of the MLB trade deadline and a sleeper pick to win the AL this season.