If the Boston Red Sox are going to make a move by the July 31 trade deadline, one imagines it’ll be for a relief arm.
The Red Sox already addressed their need for a No. 5 starter in the form of Andrew Cashner, and even with the return of Nathan Eovaldi, the back end of Boston’s bullpen still could use a boost. MLB.com, however, sees the reigning World Series champions addressing another need that’s flying under the radar.
In a column published Tuesday, Mike Petriello compiled a list of 20 players who reportedly are available for trade and predicted where each will land. For one specific reason alone, Petriello believes veteran third baseman Todd Frazier would be a great fit in Boston.
“Though Boston could still use pitching help — no, Andrew Cashner alone won’t cut it — might we suggest a minor move for small bench improvement? Consider this: Looking at team performance from first and third base against lefty pitching, the .226/.259/.380 put up by the Red Sox is 29th, or second-worst,” Petriello writes. “That’s because Rafael Devers is much stronger against righty pitching than lefty pitching; because lefty Mitch Moreland, when healthy, has massive platoon splits; and because Steve Pearce, who was supposed to help fill this role, hit just .180/.245/.258 before injuring his back and hasn’t played since May. Frazier is no star, but he’s a low-cost league-average bat who is something more than that against lefties (career .808 OPS). Every little bit matters.”
Sure, the Red Sox could use some help against left-handed pitching, but is the need really great enough to execute a trade? Devers is in the midst of a breakout season, and his .274 average against left-handed pitching is far from abysmal. This type of move was much more necessary last season when Moreland struggled mightly against southpaws while dealing with lingering ailments. Devers, meanwhile, has taken the field for all but three of the Red Sox’s games thus far in 2019.
Petriello is correct in saying “every little bit matters.” Boston’s deal for Pearce last season seemed relatively minor at the time, and the veteran first baseman went on to become a postseason hero. Frazier could be a fine fit, but he shouldn’t be very high on the Red Sox’s list of priorities. As long as its typical starting nine remains healthy, Boston shouldn’t have any concerns over its offense down the stretch.