Red Sox

Red Sox looking to add to bullpen and ‘potentially’ first base ahead of deadline

The Red Sox have similar needs as they did a year ago prior to the trade deadline.

Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox are in a position to be buyers at the deadline again. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox are in the midst of their toughest stretch on the schedule this season, and their play suggests they need help.

Boston’s gone 3-6 in its last three series’ against top AL East rivals (Blue Jays, Rays, and Yankees), and is 4-8 since June 26. Of course, the Red Sox have dealt with a slew of injuries (Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Whitlock, Kiké Hernández, and more have missed time during the recent skid), but even when those players come back they’ll still have a couple of areas to fix on the roster.

In an interview with MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom specified he’d like to add arms to the bullpen.


“I think one of the nice things about us, especially as you look towards the guys who are coming back from the injured list this month is that we expect to be in a place where we have a lot of good options throughout our roster. I think every team that’s in this position is always looking to fortify their bullpen,” Bloom told Cotillo. “Certainly some of the ups and downs we’ve been through with our bullpen have made that something we’re going to look at. We do feel like we’re going to get stronger from the ‘pen from within, not just with [Garrett] Whitlock coming back into that group, but there’s also guys in Triple-A who I think are going to step up and help us. But we’d love to add to that group if we can find a good way to do it.”

The Red Sox’ bullpen has been in flux for much of the season. They’ve got the second-most blown saves in baseball (18) and have the lowest save percentage (50 percent). They’ve also used their bullpen nearly more than anyone in baseball, calling on a reliever to enter the game 310 times this season. That trails just the Nationals (315) and Blue Jays (311).


As Bloom mentioned, Whitlock will re-enter the bullpen when he returns from his hip injury sometime in July. But outside of that, they don’t appear to have much internal help entering the bullpen. Hansel Robles, who was one of the team’s big acquisitions at the trade deadline last season, was released on Saturday after he was designated for assignment earlier in the week. Matt Barnes began his rehab assignment with rookie-level Florida Coast League affiliate on Saturday. But he gave up three runs on three hits in one inning on Saturday and has mostly struggled at the big league level since August of last season.

In late June, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons reported that the Red Sox were looking to add two right-handed bullpen arms, signaling former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard (now with the Rockies) as a potential target.

The Red Sox’ other noticeable need was highlighted in Thursday’s loss against the Yankees. First baseman Franchy Cordero, who’s played as an outfielder for most of his career prior to this season, let a routine pop fly drop due to miscommunication with the rest of the outfield. That play allowed a runner to score, which ended up being the difference in the 6-5 loss.


As the Red Sox don’t have anyone who has played first base for most of their respective career on the roster, Cotillo asked if the position is an area that Bloom is looking to improve prior to the deadline.

“Potentially,” Bloom said. “I think what Franchy has done since coming in there — granted he has some versatility to play elsewhere, too — I think he has done a solid job and I think what he has done under the surface is even better than what you see on the back of the baseball card. We know Bobby [Dalbec] can hit lefties. He’s handling a tougher role right now really well. We’ve been hopeful this whole year that as Triston [Casas] gets going, he still might figure into this thing… recognizing that he needs to make up for lost time. Certainly, it’s a spot where we can be open to additions from the outside.

“When it comes to this position player group, especially with the versatility we have in a lot of spots, we’re going to explore a lot of options in a lot of different places.”

In addition to not really having a true first baseman on the roster, Cordero and Dalbec, who’ve started the most games at first for the Sox this season, haven’t been spectacular at the plate, either. Dalbec’s hitting .212/.293/.340 with six homers while Cordero’s been a bit better, hitting .249/.323/.393 with three homers.

With Casas — one of the Red Sox’ top prospects — missing time in Triple-A Worcester since May with a high ankle sprain, the Red Sox will likely have to look externally if they want to improve at first base, too. Boston got creative in trying to resolve its first base problem a year ago, trading for outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Schwarber and moving him to first, a position he’s never played before. While Schwarber had growing pains learning how to play first, his bat made up for it as he hit .291/.435/.522 with seven homers in 41 regular-season games.


Baltimore’s Trey Mancini and Washington’s Josh Bell are just two of the first basemen who’ve been rumored to possibly be on the move ahead of the deadline. But acquiring either of those two first basemen could come at a hefty price of prospects. Bloom told Cotillo he’s just looking to make the right deals.

“I think one of the things that I took from last year is that when we made good baseball moves, more often than not, we were rewarded for them,” Bloom told Cotillo. “Some of them looked like small moves at the time and we reaped tremendous rewards from them. You can’t get too greedy with this game. You have to focus on making good moves. Small moves can have big ramifications. If a good move is a large move that steals all the headlines, that’s fine too and that’s something we look for as long as it’s a good trade.”

Following Sunday’s game against the Yankees, the Red Sox will continue their stretch of facing teams in playoff contention, playing games against the Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Guardians, Brewers, and Astros all before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.


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