Nick Yorke, promoted from the Portland Sea Dogs to Worcester last month, could be an asset the Red Sox are willing to part with at the trade deadline. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

We don’t yet know if the Red Sox are going to be buyers or sellers at the July 30 deadline. That may not be determined until days before as Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow assesses the team’s chances of A) reaching the postseason in the first place and B) going on a long October run.

But let’s assume, for the purpose of this discussion, that Breslow decides to add to the roster. The team’s needs are rather obvious: starting pitching, a right-handed bat and perhaps one more high-leverage bullpen arm.

It would be easy to list some potential targets on which the team might focus. But there’s another part of the equation here, too: who would the Red Sox be willing to move in exchange for help?

It’s a given that Breslow won’t be tempted to move anyone from their current major league roster, unless he somehow finds a unique opportunity to deal, say, Kenley Jansen for a rental starter.

Needless to say, any mention of The Big Three – Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony and Kyle Teel — would be a non-starter, and you could probably add another half-dozen others to that list of untouchables: outfielder Miguel Bleis, infielder Yoeilin Cespedes, and almost any starting pitching prospect, given how few the organization currently claims.

But even if the Sox classify as many as 10 prospects as absolutely off-limits, that leaves plenty of potential trade chips. Remember 2021, when the Red Sox acquired their last significant deadline rental (Kyle Schwarber)? They obtained him for Aldo Ramirez, who missed two years due to injury and, three years later, is still pitching in Class A ball.


So who could be offered? A look at a few possible trade candidates:

Former second-round pick Matthew Lugo is in the midst of a breakout 2024 season. He has a .986 OPS with 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases this season while playing first for the Sea Dogs then the Worcester Red Sox. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Matthew Lugo: Until this season, Lugo, a former second-round pick, had stalled with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs and was edging toward being classified as a bust. But 2024 has been a breakout season for him. Splitting time between Portland and Worcester, Lugo has a .986 OPS with 15 homers and 14 stolen bases. Drafted as a shortstop, he’s also established additional versatility by playing the outfield this year. And yet, given long list of players who could be blocking his arrival to Boston (Mayer and Trevor Story in the infield) and Anthony, Jarren Duran, Ceddanne Rafaela and Wilyer Abreu in the outfield), he could be expendable.

Nick Yorke: Like Lugo, Yorke was once a high pick (first round in 2020). Also like Lugo, he’s been exposed to the outfield after being drafted as an infielder. Moved up last month from Portland to Worcester, Yorke has hit better at Triple A than he did at Double A. It’s an open debate whether he can be an everyday player in the big leagues, but at the very least, he looks to be a valuable depth piece, capable of playing both the outfield and second base while displaying strong bat-to-ball skills. His lack of power – he’s never hit more than 14 homers in any one minor league season – may limit his profile further, but teams are always on the lookout for someone who can move around and put the ball in play. The Red Sox have a crowded middle infield picture for the near future, with Story, Mayer and Vaughn Grissom – among others – in competition for playing time at either shortstop and/or second base, blocking Yorke. Finally, Yorke will have to be added to the 40-man roster in November, or the Sox will risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.

Nathan Hickey: The Red Sox are in the enviable position of being in good shape at the catcher position for the foreseeable future. Connor Wong has emerged as an above-average big league catcher and Teel is one of the handful of top catching prospects in the game, thought to be less than a year away from making an impact in the major leagues. Their presence would seem to block Hickey, a bat-first catcher who’s also been used at first base. Hickey has above-average pop, though swing-and-misses at Worcester have made it difficult to access his power, with a .212 average and 91 strikeouts in 236 at-bats. There are also questions about his defensive skills. Still, he’s hit nine homers and might be seen as someone who could serve as a DH/1B/backup catcher.

There are, of course, numerous players at High Single A and below who few have heard about; that doesn’t mean other organizations don’t attach some value to them.

It’s entirely possible that the Red Sox could end up using someone from their Dominican Summer League program as the bait to land more immediate help. Teams are often intrigued with young and undeveloped talent, even if a player hasn’t played pro ball in the United States yet.

There’s also the chance that the Sox could use a player like Bobby Dalbec to round out a package. Dalbec hasn’t performed well at the big league level since 2021, but he continues to mash at Triple A with 49 homers in his last 162 games at Worcester. Now 29, and out of options after this season, Dalbec wouldn’t headline a trade, but he might be an attractive secondary piece.

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