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Major League Baseball’s trade deadline will pass on Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. ET, or a six days from today. While this deadline is unlikely to be as busy or as entertaining as it normally is for a variety of reasons — including the pandemic’s financial impact on teams and their budgets, and the tight clustering in the standings spurred by a shortened season and an expanded playoff field — there will still be a number of trades made between now and then.

Over the weekend, the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies completed what could be classified as the first trade of the deadline season: a four-pitcher swap that involved veteran relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. The Red Sox aren’t likely to be done, either.  Boston entered Tuesday with the majors’ third-worst record and second-poorest run differential (often a better indicator of team strength in smaller samples).

The Red Sox, far from contender status, are open for business. While dreaming up Xander Bogaerts or J.D. Martinez trade scenarios is a fun way to pass the time (and could come in handy this winter), it’s more likely that Boston focuses its efforts on moving four veteran hitters.

Let’s evaluate and identify potential landing spots for each of them.

A pair of outfielders, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar, are thought to be the likeliest Red Sox to be dealt before September hits, according to what league sources have told CBS Sports.

We’ll begin with Bradley Jr., whose poor start to the season (.235/.300/.358, 76 OPS+) is more deceptive than not. It’s true that he has a below-average exit velocity and a reduced launch angle, but it’s important to note that his usage is different from the past. The Red Sox aren’t protecting him against left-handers as much as they did in the past, leading to a skewed overall line. To wit, his .755 OPS against right-handed pitchers this year is above his career norm.

A team acquiring Bradley Jr. would be wise to limit his exposure to lefties. If they do that, he should be able to provide above-average defense and some bottom-of-the-order production against right-handed pitching for the rest of the season.

Potential fits: Rockies, Cleveland, Phillies 

As for Pillar, he’s off to a good start, hitting .278/.340/.454 (111 OPS+) and showing more patience than normal. He’s walking at a career-high rate (nearly eight percent) and swinging on less than half the pitches he’s seen. That may not sound impressive, but keep in mind that Pillar offered at nearly 60 percent of the pitches he saw during the 2019 season.

Whereas the Red Sox aren’t platooning Bradley Jr. as aggressively, they’ve taken the inverse approach with Pillar. He’s facing a greater percentage of left-handers than usual, and that’s working out just fine for him. Coming into Monday, he’d hit .277/.333/.553 with the platoon advantage. He probably won’t keep up that pace, based on his career numbers (.280/.314/.459), but he ought to make for a fine short-side platoon option for someone.

Potential fits: Rockies, Cleveland, Phillies

Here’s what we wrote about Mitch Moreland when we included him in our list of 25 trade candidates:

The Red Sox hold an option on Mitch Moreland for 2021 that will pay him $3 million if it gets exercised. That pittance could make him more appealing to contenders who are seeking a tolerable option at the cold corner for this year and the year to come. There’s no great mystery about what he provides: he’s been a league-average hitter (or thereabout) for the last three years, and he’s a former Gold Glove Award winner who is more likely to get his teammates into country music than he is to hit .300 or smack 30 home runs. That’s OK; he’s cheap.

What else needs to be said? Nothing, in our estimation. 

Potential fits: Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies

We’ll end with Christian Vazquez, who also has a team-friendly contract. He’s locked up through next season for $6.25 million, with his employer holding a club option on ’22 worth $7 million.

Vazquez hasn’t made good on the offensive promise he showed last season, when he launched 23 homers. Entering Monday, he was hitting .258/.289/.419 (87 OPS+) with strikeout and walk rates that were heading in the wrong directions. Teams will tolerate that kind of offensive shakiness from their backstop if they’re cheap and talented behind the dish, and Vazquez is both. He grades as an above-average framer and thrower, and he just turned 30 last week. 

There aren’t many attractive catching options on the market, so Boston might try to take advantage of the situation and see if Vazquez can’t bring back more than he might otherwise.

Potential fits: Rays, Rockies, Padres


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