Here's a look at some trade targets whose names could emerge in the next few weeks as a good fit for the Red Sox.
Carlos Beltran, OFTeam: Mets
Profile: The Mets might try to sell Beltran at the deadline if a big enough offer arises, but his $18.5 million salary is a lot to unload. The Sox could use another big-time bat to complement a solid rotation (when healthy), and Beltran fits that bill. He's hitting .283 with a .372 on-base percentage to go along with 13 homers and 57 RBIs. Beltran also has an outstanding postseson history, but hasn't played in one since 2006.
Jeff Francoeur, RFTeam: Royals
Profile: Francoeur is producing almost as much as Carlos Beltran, but his salary is only a fraction of Beltran's. The strong-armed right fielder is hitting .268 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs, and he's making $2.5 million this season. The Royals are more likely to be sellers at the deadline because they are not close to contending in the AL Central while the Mets are vying for a wild-card spot.
Ryan Ludwick, OFTeam: Padres
Profile: Ludwick falls right in the mix of outfield possibilities, hitting .252 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs. He has been more successful against lefties than righties this season, making him a good fit to platoon with J.D. Drew in right field. He won't come as cheap as Jeff Francoeur, but could be a viable option. The Padres have been one of the most discussed teams in this year's trade talks.
Jeff Baker, 2BTeam: Cubs
Profile: www.nesn.com/2011/07/theo-epstein-says-red-sox-more-likely-to-be-in-market-for-position-players-as-trade-deadline-nears.html" target="blank">NESN's Peter Gammons reported Tuesday that the Red Sox have looked into Baker, and he fits general manager Theo Epstein's description of a "complementary position player." With experience at first, second, third and the corner outfield positions, Baker offers versatility to go along with his .318 batting average. He's probably not an everyday player, but could be a quality option off the bench for the Red Sox.
Coco Crisp, OFTeam: Athletics
Profile: Red Sox fans wouldn't mind seeing Crisp and his stellar defense return to Fenway Park. He's hitting .263 with 28 RBIs and would make the Red Sox faster (25 stolen bases in 78 games).
Carlos Quentin, OFTeam: White Sox
Profile: Quentin is producing for the White Sox and would fit into the Red Sox mold of sluggers. The White Sox could require a lot in exchange for Quentin (.253, 17 HR, 50 RBIs), and the Red Sox are not in a position to deal a starting pitcher.
Ty Wigginton, Utility
Profile: Wigginton has AL East experience with the Rays and Orioles, and offers versatility on defense. He has 20 or more homers in four of his last five seasons and has 13 this season with the Rockies. His contract is attractive, too, as he's signed through 2012 with a team option for 2013.
Jonny Gomes, OF
Profile: Gomes has drastic splits, hitting .174 against righthanders and .362 against southpaws this season. He has 11 home runs and 31 RBIs this season while playing left field for the Reds this season, but he does have experience in right. He would be a cheap, but solid option for the Red Sox.
Hunter Pence, RF
Profile: Pence is having a career year and would be tough to pull away from the Astros. Houston is the worst team in baseball, however, and might look to rebuild with a trade centered around Pence. Pence has 10 homers, 59 RBIs and is hitting .328, which ranks second in the National League. He remains a long shot to be dealt, but would be a great upgrade for any team looking for offense.
Ryan Spilborghs, OF
Profile: Also mentioned in Peter Gammons's report, Spilborghs presents a righthanded bat with little pop. This season he's hitting .214 with a .299 on-base percentage, but he's a career .274 hitter who would give the Red Sox more outfield experience than Darnell McDonald.
Conor Jackson, Utility
Profile: Stifled by the Oakland Coliseum, Jackson's numbers are down in 2011 (.243, 2 HR, 22 RBIs). He strung together three strong seasons from 2006 to 2008, but injuries plagued him in the following two seasons. Jackson has experience playing both corner outfield positions and first base. He is in the same category as Ryan Spilborghs and Jeff Baker.
Derek Lowe, RHP
Profile: The former Boston starter is in his third year with the Braves, who have the best pitching staff in baseball (by ERA). With as much pitching depth as the Braves have, Lowe might be expendable. Lowe is 38 years old and still making $15 million annually, which might pose a problem for the Red Sox in dealing for the tall righthander.
Michael Cuddyer, OF
Profile: The Twins have climbed out of last place and Cuddyer has played a major role in the team's surge. Hitting .296 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs, Cuddyer has stepped up with team leader Joe Mauer out with an injury. A life-long Twin would take a big offer to be traded, but the Red Sox have chips to trade. Cuddyer is a free agent after this season, so the Twins might put him on the market and try to land some prospects instead of losing him outright in the offseason.
Josh Willingham, LF
Profile: Willingham averaged 20 homers over his last five seasons and is on pace to hit that mark this season in Oakland. In his first season in the American League, Willingham has seen his batting average dip to .232 and his strikeout rate increased to a career high. The Athletics will likely be sellers, and, like Conor Jackson, Willingham fits the bill of a righthanded complementary player.
Heath Bell, RHP
Profile: Bell likely will be the most coveted reliever at this year's trading deadline, and what role he'd play on the Red Sox is an issue, but other than Mariano Rivera, it's hard to find a more consistent closer in baseball than Bell. He is on pace for his third straight 40-save season, and in his contact year with the Padres 10 games out of first place.
Jose Reyes, SS
Profile: Nabbing Reyes would be a dream come true for Red Sox Nation, but for right now Red Sox fans can keep dreaming. The top NL MVP candidate playing in his contract year was finally healthy this season, already matching last season's stolen base total (30), but the Mets just placed him on the disabled list. It would take a plethora of prospects from the Red Sox to land Reyes, and the Mets have indicated they would be very unlikely to trade him, but the return would be the best shortstop in baseball -- for less than half a season.
Which one would you most like to have on the Red Sox?