ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With three weeks to go before the trade deadline, Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is still "not sure what we're going to do." One thing the team won't consider: Trading for a starting pitcher.
"We're not looking for starting pitching at this point," Dombrowski said Saturday. "That's not a need for our club."
Third base, on the other hand...
Despite entering Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a four-game lead in the American League East, the Red Sox have gotten a .620 OPS from the third-base position, the second-least production ahead of only the San Francisco Giants (.609). Fill-ins Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin have played solid defense and provided unexpected sparks at the bottom of the order over the past two weeks, and the Sox are 26-14 when at least one of them starts.
But Dombrowski still sounds like he plans to pursue a possible upgrade. Among the third basemen who could be available before the July 31 deadline: Todd Frazier (Chicago White Sox), Martin Prado (Miami Marlins) and Jed Lowrie (Oakland Athletics).
"They've done a good job for us, no question," Dombrowski said of Marrero and Lin. "They've stabilized the position, is the best way to say it -- stabilized and provided some help for us. But I think you're also in a spot that you're always cognizant of trying to help the club however you can."
The Red Sox also will have to deal with the return of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, whose minor-league rehab assignment from an inner-ear infection will expire on July 17. Sandoval is batting only .212 with four homers and a .622 OPS in 99 at-bats, but has approximately $50.2 million remaining on a contract that runs through the 2019 season.
Bullpen help is another area the Red Sox could pursue. But when it comes to the rotation, David Price is back from a spring-training elbow injury and fellow left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to return from the disabled list after the All-Star break. The Red Sox recently addressed their rotation depth by claiming veteran right-hander Doug Fister off waivers.
"We can always get deeper," Dombrowski said. "But I don't know how much deeper you can get at this particular time in that regard."
Based on conversations with every team, Dombrowski said only a handful have identified as full-fledged sellers. With a majority of teams at least on the verge of contention for a playoff spot, most clubs won't decide to sell until July 31 draws closer.
"The reality is that most people are saying they want to push their decisions off until as late as they possibly can," Dombrowski said. "I'm not saying that somebody wouldn't do something (soon), but I think most people are saying, let's just see where we go in the next couple weeks."