By: Joe Spinosa
With the MLB Trade Deadline fast approaching, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has his hands full in his attempt to bring Boston back to the World Series. Following the unparalleled disaster that was the Pablo Sandoval experiment, the Red Sox have a very big hole to fill at third base, literally. With a -1.6 wins above replacement from the position as a whole, changes clearly need to be made, so here are a few options to keep in mind as potential players who could end up in Boston. While the situation may look grim, one glimmer of hope is that top prospect Rafael Devers is absolutely raking in the minors and has just been called up, so he should contribute even in small doses.
Adrian Beltre: As evidenced by his first two years with the Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski is not afraid to pull off a blockbuster trade. Although a move for Beltre wouldn't be as major as it would have been a few years ago, a reunion with the future Hall of Famer would certainly excite Red Sox Nation. There isn't much to say about Adrian Beltre that hasn't been said or demonstrated by his elite and consistent play both in the field and in the batters box. Even at the age of 38, and amidst injuries, Beltre has continued to produce with an .871 OPS while driving in 31 runs in only 43 games, which would equate to nearly 117 over a full 162 game season. Moreover, Beltre should have a special place in his heart for Boston as it was the place where he resurrected his career after a slightly disappointing stay in Seattle. In his lone season in Boston in 2010, Beltre had one of his best seasons with a league-leading 49 doubles to go along with a .321 average and stellar defense. Beltre is signed through the 2018 season and has shown to still have gas left in the tank even at the precipice of 3,000 career hits. Sitting at 4th place in the AL West and 18 games out, the Rangers hopes for a spot in the playoffs have flown away, so they could have a fire sale this deadline. If that happens, Beltre could be on his way out, and what better place to continue his illustrious career than in the place where it really took off after the age of 30. If the Sox deal for Beltre, the package shouldn't be too steep; however, Dombrowksi may have to part ways with former first round pick MIchael Chavis, but that would only be a last resort.
Ian Kinsler: Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler is a name that has not been floated around as a legitimate target for the Red Sox, at least until the past few days. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, aka the best in the business, speculated that Kinsler could be an option given his relationship with Dave Dombrowski, the former general manager of the Tigers. While Kinsler has been a second baseman for his entire career, he has the skill set to make a transition to the hot corner. In 2016, Kinsler had one of his best seasons batting .288 with 28 homers and his usual stellar defense. Kinsler's contract expires this offseason, but it has a club option for $10 million with a buyout for $5 million. It would be in the best interest of both the Red Sox and Kinsler to have the option declined as Kinsler could be a free agent, and the Red Sox would not have to block the third baseman of the future in Rafael Devers. At the age of 35, Kinsler is starting to show his age, but he would still represent a significant upgrade who can at pop to the lineup and veteran leadership. Also, the Tigers are in a similar situation to the Rangers and look to be sellers. The return for Kinsler should not be too steep.
Eduardo Nunez: Giants versatile speedster is not the "sexiest" option for Red Sox fans, but is by far the most likely option if the Red Sox do indeed upgrade at third base. Similarly to current Red Sox super-utility man Brock Holt, Nunez can play all over the diamond as he has split time between third base, shortstop, and various outfield spots. Also like Holt, Nunez has been one of the more unheralded All-Stars in recent memory as he participated in the Mid-Summer Classic just last year as a member of the Minnesota Twins before being dealt to the San Francisco Giants. What makes Nunez the most likely option is that he will come cheap in two ways; one being the return the Red Sox will have to surrender in a trade, and two, he is only a rental on a $4.2 million salary for 2017. Furthermore, USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reported that the Red Sox "have their eye" on Nunez after watching target Todd Frazier be swooped up by the rival Yankees in a deal that netted the Bronx Bombers relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. To sum things up, Nunez is not a "difference-maker", but he is a solid ballplayer who can hit for a high average and defend the position. He also lacks the power that Frazier could have added as Nunez only has four home runs this year. Nevertheless, Nunez is still an upgrade and can be had for a low-level prospect.
(Photo: The Boston Globe)