That said, the Red Sox could stand to upgrade in a few areas, and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom undoubtedly will be working the phones ahead of Friday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline in the hopes of adding the pieces necessary to solidify Boston as a legitimate World Series contender in 2021.
Will help come in the form of a first baseman? Or maybe a starting pitcher who could alleviate any pressure facing Chris Sale in the left-hander’s return from Tommy John surgery? What about the bullpen, where contenders always can use reinforcements despite it being a strength for Boston to this point?
We asked our NESN Digital team a simple question: Who should be the Red Sox’s top trade target before the MLB deadline?
Here are their responses, with one name popping up on several occasions.
LAUREN CAMPBELL: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
The Red Sox need a first baseman. The position has been a revolving door for Boston and it needs to be addressed before the deadline. A three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Rizzo usually is good for at least 20 home runs a season. Adding power to an already dangerous lineup, as well as stability at first base, seems like a no-brainer.
JENNA CICCOTELLI: Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres
The Franchy Cordero experiment made its big league debut Sunday when the outfielder-turned-first-baseman got his first MLB start at the position. But it didn’t immediately solve the problem that has been brewing at first base all season in Boston. He went 1-for-3, then 2-for-4 against the Blue Jays the next day. Amid Bobby Dalbec’s struggles, Cordero is a fine platoon option for now, so long as he doesn’t ease back into the slump that sent him down to the minors in the first place.
The Red Sox could use a tried-and-tested first baseman. It just so happens the Padres reportedly could be open to dealing one in Hosmer. He’s having a down season by his standards, but he’s hitting .269 with 48 RBIs and 13 doubles through 94 games in 2021. He’s in the middle of an eight-year, $144 million deal, but his veteran leadership is exactly what Boston needs on the bag at this point.
MIKE COLE: Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs have said they’re not shopping Hendricks, but they should be listening on everyone. Bloom has hinted at the possibility of trading for players with term, which Hendricks has through at least the 2023 season. He’s one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, and he’s pitching well, going 10-0 with a 2.90 ERA in his last 14 starts. He also has some big-game moxie, as evidenced by his 2016 run when he allowed just four runs in 25 innings — including a terrific World Series Game 7 start — as Chicago won it all.
RICKY DOYLE: José Berríos, SP, Minnesota Twins
Max Scherzer joining Boston’s rotation — alongside Sale, when the veteran southpaw returns — would be entertaining and likely cement the Red Sox as the favorites to represent the AL in the Fall Classic. Acquiring Berríos would serve that same purpose, with the added benefit of him being under contract for 2022, as well.
Berríos, who just turned 27 in May, is a pitcher worth hitching your wagon to: a frontline starter in his prime with no durability issues to this point. Prying him away from the Twins would be costly, but also worthwhile now that Boston’s championship window has opened sooner than expected.
ADAM LONDON: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
This isn’t a spicy answer, but there’s a reason this hypothetical has been suggested so much across the baseball landscape. It makes too much sense. Boston needs help at first base — both with the bat and the glove — and could use a left-handed hitter at the position. Rizzo, one of the more respected players in the league, checks off those boxes and has a bevy of playoff experience. The Red Sox wouldn’t need to break the bank to acquire him, either.
SEAN MCGUIRE: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo should be heavily considered by the Red Sox, as he brings a left-handed bat and, perhaps most importantly, postseason experience. Rizzo is a career .269 hitter and his 14 home runs and 40 RBIs through 92 games this season would provide Boston — an already deep offensive club — with another stable bat. The 31-year-old Rizzo, a four-time Gold Glove winner, also would provide Boston with a heightened defensive presence.
LOGAN MULLEN: Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles
Mancini would very quickly solve the first base issue, and it helps he’s also capable of playing in the outfield. As we know, Bloom loves versatile players. Adding Mancini to the lineup means he and Hunter Renfroe probably would be the sixth and seventh hitters, which suggests the Red Sox would be receiving absurd power from the bottom half of their order. Would the Orioles trade Mancini within the division? Perhaps not, but it’s not completely uncommon for the Sox and O’s to do business with one another.
DAKOTA RANDALL: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
I know everyone is talking about him, but there’s a reason for that: Rizzo-to-Boston just makes too much sense. The Red Sox can’t withstand Dalbec’s struggles against right-handed pitching if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs. Rizzo, a left-handed batter, would fix that problem and also is a great defender. Plus, he’s a free agent after this season and seemingly wouldn’t block top prospect Triston Casas from a promotion next year.