BOSTON -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington wasn't engaging in doublespeak when he said that all trades don't fit neatly into a "buyer's" bucket or "seller's" bucket. There are deals that a team can make that could help in the short term to bolster a team back in contention, but are designed more for their potential long-term impact.
For example: With their outfield the weakest in the major leagues offensively (.635 OPS), the Sox could use another bat. If they were contenders, they might consider making a run at Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, the 33-year-old veteran who bats from the right side -- matching Boston's need -- and took a .305/.336/.434/.770 slash line into play Friday.
Rios has hit just three home runs this season, even playing in homer-happy The Ballpark in Arlington, after hitting 25 just two seasons ago. The Rangers, who have been decimated with injuries and are suffering no illusions of climbing back in the race, will almost certainly move Rios, who will have roughly $4 million left on his contract this season, with a $13.5 million team option next season ($1 million buyout).
The Rangers will expect at least one good prospect in exchange for Rios, much like the one they traded to the White Sox when they dealt for Rios at the 2013 deadline: 23-year-old shortstop Leury Garcia, who was ranked as the Rangers' 20th-best prospect by Baseball America in 2013 and is on Chicago's big league roster as an infield reserve.
If the Red Sox were not nine games under .500, Rios would fit the profile of the type of the player who would be on the top of Boston's list at the deadline. He's played in the AL East (former Blue Jay), and would give John Farrell the type of lineup balance he sorely needs.
But Rios doesn't fit the profile of a player the Sox would look to keep next season, and spending $5 million (rest of this season, the buyout) for a rental doesn't make a lot of sense.
The ideal candidate for the Sox who would make an instant impact and also have a profound impact on the team's future would be Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, the 24-year-old slugger who already profiles as a future Hall of Famer if he stays healthy. Twenty-nine teams cling to the hope that the Marlins will unload Stanton the way they have so many other stars as soon as they start to become expensive, and the Sox could put together an attractive package of prospects, but so far Miami has not budged from its stance that Stanton's not going anywhere. This week, Marlins GM Dan Jennings called it "fantasy" that he even remotely considered moving Stanton, as was suggested by those leaked Astros trade documents.
A Stanton deal wouldn't necessarily fit a buyer's bucket or seller's bucket -- the Sox could still sell off big league pieces in an effort to acquire more prospects the Marlins might covet, which would be conceding this season -- but this remains in the dream category.
Is there a deal, then, to be made that wouldn't mark the Sox necessarily as buyers but could help them now and potentially even more in the future?
Here's a name that might fit that profile: White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo. The Red Sox made a huge push to sign Viciedo when he initially defected from Cuba, and were bitterly disappointed when he signed with the White Sox five years ago.
Viciedo so far has not approached the vast power potential that dazzled scouts when he was in Cuba, though he appeared headed in that direction when he hit 25 home runs for the White Sox in 2012. That number fell to 14 last season, and so far in 2014 he has 9, with a singularly unimpressive slash line of .242/.294/.404/.698.
But Viciedo just turned 25 in March, is being paid just $2.8 million this season, and would remain under a club's control through the 2017 season. Despite his underachieving performance this season, his right-handed power might be an ideal fit in Fenway Park.
Other teams have already approached the White Sox about him, including the contending Mariners and Giants, according to one major league source. The Mariners, the source said, would consider trading 23-year-old right-hander Brandon Maurer as part of a two-player package for him, so it's reasonable to expect that the Red Sox would have to be willing to part with one of their young arms (Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster) to acquire him.
Viciedo for the Sox would be the type of player who doesn't fit neatly in either bucket. The Sox don't want to make a Bronson Arroyo-for-Wily Mo Pena type of mistake for him, but depending on how Sox evaluators regard his upside, this bears watching.