The Red Sox aren’t in a good place.

They’re 34-35 and have spent most of the season last in the AL East. They went into Thursday five games out of the final American League wild-card spot and have three teams to jump ahead of. Two of their best players are hurt and likely won’t be back until at least late July or August, and they do not have an everyday shortstop on their active roster.

And yet beneath that unflattering picture, the Red Sox might not be as far from contention as they look.

This year’s team is flawed, but it is flawed in specific, fixable ways. The club has played a lot of close games, and many of those tight losses might have gone the other way if the Red Sox had gotten consistent play at shortstop, or if the starting pitching hadn’t been so erratic the first month and a half. Or if the defense in general had been better.

In that case might be having a completely different conversation, so don’t the Red Sox owe it to themselves to bring in the reinforcements they need to really compete? If that winds up being the direction the team goes, here are a couple of realistic trade targets the Red Sox might consider:

Paul DeJong, SS, Cardinals


If the Red Sox plan to shore up their roster, this is the kind of move they shouldn’t wait until late July to make. Right now, they don’t have a regular shortstop, and while they could get Trevor Story back by August, they can’t afford to wait around and hope Yu Chang and Pablo Reyes can hold down the fort for nearly two months.

DeJong would address a lot of Boston’s biggest issues. For one, he’s a proven shortstop who has only made one error in more than 370 innings this season. He’s also having a resurgent year at the plate with nine home runs and a .736 OPS. He has a favorable contract situation, with a $12.5 million club option for 2024, and considering how bad St. Louis has been, there’s a good chance the Cardinals would pick up the phone if Boston came calling with the right offer.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and Padres infielder Ha-Seong Kim are other options, but the specific player is less important than the overarching goal of addressing the club’s unacceptable shortstop situation.

If the Red Sox fancy themselves serious contenders, then they won’t wait around. The sooner they add a proven everyday shortstop, the better.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, White Sox

The starting pitching has held its own recently, but with Chris Sale on the shelf, the rotation could use some help. The Chicago White Sox are shaping up to be a popular spot for teams looking to improve their pitching, but while Dylan Cease and former Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech both offer talent and upside, the best fit for Boston might be Giolito.


Giolito is having the best season of the three, with a 3.54 ERA and 84 strikeouts through his first 14 starts, and he’s also the most reliable of the group. Since becoming an everyday starter back in 2018, Giolito has made 29 starts or more in every year except the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, when he made all 12 starts. That kind of consistency goes a long way, and the Red Sox could especially use it, given the upheaval their rotation has endured.

As a pending free agent, Giolito could potentially be a rental, but that might make Chicago’s asking price for him more reasonable than for Cease and Kopech, both of whom are still under team control for two more years.

Shane Bieber, RHP, Guardians

Are the Cleveland Guardians going to be sellers? They’re 31-36, but they’re also only 31/2 games out of first place in the moribund AL Central. Even if they don’t look like championship contenders they do have a much more plausible path to the postseason than most AL clubs.

Let’s say for the sake of argument they do sell at the trade deadline. Could Bieber be available? The former Cy Young Award winner is having another strong campaign and could be among the most impactful additions the Red Sox theoretically might make.

Entering Thursday, Bieber had a 3.29 ERA in 14 starts and led the American League with 872/3 innings. He has 10 quality starts, tied for second most in baseball, and on Sunday he threw seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts to beat the Houston Astros, 5-0.


Bieber would be much costlier to acquire than Giolito. He is still under team control for another season, and at 28 years old is in the prime of his career. That means the Red Sox would need to pony up if they wanted to add him, but the upside is he wouldn’t just be part of the present, but an important building block for the future as well.

Brent Suter, LHP, Rockies

The bullpen is in decent shape overall, and the group should get a good boost when John Schreiber returns. But the club’s lefty situation isn’t ideal, and given that Joely Rodriguez and Richard Bleier have been injured and ineffective, the club might want to consider adding another proven arm.

One good option was just in town. Suter has been among baseball’s top lefty relievers, boasting a 2.50 ERA in 29 games and 392/3 innings this season. He’s a pending free agent making $3 million, so he’d be an affordable target both financially and in terms of the prospects it might require to get him.

Maybe these wouldn’t be as splashy as going out and adding Shohei Ohtani, but they would help address Boston’s most pressing needs. A similar approach worked out well for the Atlanta Braves in 2021, so who’s to say the Red Sox can’t follow a similar blueprint?

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