Much like their hated rivals, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox enter every season expecting to win it all despite the talent they put on the field. Those expectations are justifiable, the team has won three World Series since breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, their farm system is among the best in baseball and they can compete with anybody financially.
The 2015 season, however, has been a disaster for the Red Sox. Their starting rotation has the worst ERA in baseball, prized offseason acquisition Pablo Sandoval is hitting .270, the second-lowest of his career and has been extremely poor defensively.
The Red Sox are the only team in the AL East with a losing record and are nine games behind division-leader Tampa Bay.
For most teams, this would lead to a fire sale at the July 31 trade deadline, but Boston may be better off as buyers, especially for pitching to reload for 2016. As mentioned earlier, the Red Sox have a loaded farm system and could use their assets to acquire a top-level pitcher who will not be available on the market, such as Phillies ace Cole Hamels.
Hamels has been long tied to the Red Sox as a potential trade partner, but Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington and Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. have been in a dog fight over compensation. With the Phillies clearly emerging as sellers at the deadline and several other teams potentially reaching out to them for Hamels, Boston may need to pull the trigger to make this deal happen.
Hamels would immediately become the best pitcher on the team, and quite possibly the division. Additionally, the team could add an arm in free agency, where Johnny Cueto, Doug Fister, Zack Grienke (opt out clause) and David Price could all be available. While adding two top-level pitchers to their rotation would come at a cost, it would also significantly improve the team.
The Sandoval situation, however, is a different obstacle. He is much better suited to play DH, but David Ortiz mans that position and has for the past since 2003. Boston will have to hope that Ortiz, who turns 40 in December, will retire instead of playing out the final year of his contract.
If Ortiz does retire, however, it opens the door for Sandoval to move to DH and for Hanley Ramirez to move from left field, where he has looked unnatural to third base.
Boston may be looking for a new manager at the end of the season as well if the team continues to underperform. After leading his team to a World Series in his first season as skipper, John Farrell has watched the team regress, going 71-91 last season. This year, the Red Sox are on pace to win just 69 games.
Although the team has looked poor on the field, the Red Sox are only a few moves away from being contenders again in 2016. With the money and prospects to make such moves, Cherington shouldn’t hesitate to build for the future with proven players.