It’s not often that Red Sox Nation debates whether its team should be a buyer or seller at the July 31 trade deadline, but that’s where we're at in this disappointing season.
With a few attractive trade chips -- namely Jon Lester and Koji Uehara, who will become free agents at the end of the season, and John Lackey, who is under contract for $500,000 for next season -- and the team currently stuck in neutral, some have begun wondering whether it would be smart to punt on the season and gather assets for next season and beyond.
The Red Sox are currently 30-36 (.455), eight games out of first in the AL East but just 4½ games out of the second wild card (albeit with nine teams ahead of them).
The Red Sox have been clear about their stance: They’re not giving up on the season, at least not at this point. Ben Cherington relayed that message earlier this week and Larry Lucchino reiterated it this morning on Boston sports radio station WEEI.
“There is a realistic assessment made [on whether to buy or sell before the trade deadline], but it’s not made at this point when there are 96 games in the season, it’s made generally much later,” Lucchino said. “And in our case, it’s almost always made in late July, not in early June.”
The question was posted to ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Rick Sutcliffe (video above), who pointed to the 2013 Dodgers as Exhibit A on why it’s not smart to count a team out in mid-June.
“I think back a year ago about the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the 21st of June they were 30-42. The only talk they had going on was about firing Don Mattingly,” Sutcliffe said. “Now he’s going for manager of the year. What did they do? They brought up Yasiel Puig. They got that bat they needed, they got the energy they needed.”
What the Red Sox need most at this point is a big bat -- particularly one in the outfield -- to wake up the middle of their lineup. Since June 1, the Red Sox have hit .240 as a team, ahead of only the punchless Rays in the American League.
Sutcliffe suggests a trade for the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, who might end up being the odd man out in a crowded L.A. outfield. Kemp, however, is not exactly tearing it up. He has 5 homers and 19 RBIs through 58 games. The 29-year-old also has five years and $107 million left on his bloated contract after this season. Not sure if the Red Sox want to take on more than $21 million per season on a player who might be on the down side of his career.
“Granted, it’s going to cost you a little bit [to trade for Kemp],” Sutcliffe says. “But if he is healthy like Don Mattingly thinks he is, instead of it being spending, it’s going to be investing. ... Big Papi told them over the winter, ‘you need to get me some help;’ it’s not too late.”
Is Kemp the answer? And at what cost? Vote in the poll above and share your thoughts on whether the Red Sox should be buyers or sellers.