The Boston Red Sox are at a crossroads.

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Red Sox are in a bad place. They’ve lost 10 of their last 14 games, all against the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, and now stand at 48-45. They are two games below the playoff cutline and only 1 1/2 games ahead of the last-place but surging Baltimore Orioles. Now they’ve once again lost left-hander Chris Sale to injury, this time due to a broken left pinky suffered after Sale was hit in the hand by a line drive.

The road ahead won’t get any easier, so how should the Red Sox proceed? The next few weeks should offer clarity, but there are a handful of distinct paths the club could follow that will determine the club’s near-term and potentially long-term future.


No doubt the most exciting path, this is also the least likely route the Red Sox could take, especially in light of Sale’s injury. If the Red Sox were fully healthy and had proven they could compete against their AL East rivals, then maybe the club might push its chips to the center of the table and deal for a top option like Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo.

Even if the Red Sox were rolling, an all-in approach wouldn’t mesh with Chaim Bloom’s oft-stated preference to build responsibly and sustainably toward both short and long-term contention. That kind of approach can pay off, as we saw with the club’s spectacular success in 2018, but eventually the bill comes due and right now the Red Sox aren’t in a place where a big, risky investment is likely to be worth it.



As ugly as things may look, the Red Sox are still only two games out of a playoff spot and have a bunch of key players due to return from injury. Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock both returned this past weekend, Trevor Story could be back as soon as Sunday and Rich Hill and Michael Wacha might not be far behind.

All it would take is one good week to completely flip the narrative, and if the Red Sox have a chance to seriously contend why not bring in the reinforcements they need? As we saw with Kyle Schwarber, Hansel Robles and Austin Davis last year, Bloom could add pieces without giving up too much in the way of prospect capital. So if there’s a good bullpen arm, a right-handed bat or some kind of upgrade in the outfield or at first base available at the right price, and if there is even a chance the club could still make a realistic playoff push, the Red Sox owe it to themselves to give it a shot.


One middle path the Red Sox could follow is essentially to have their cake and eat it too. On one hand, the club could trade a couple of pending free agents who might not be a part of the long-term plan either for prospects or to address a big league need in another area. On the other hand, they could also go out and make some splashy deals for players who have multiple years of team control.

If done right, the club could both improve its roster for the second half while also shoring up its long-term outlook. Some potential trade candidates in this scenario might include starting pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha, outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kiké Hernández and catchers Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki, all of whom are set to hit free agency this offseason. The club could also trade one of its four left-handed relievers, a group that includes Jake Diekman, Matt Strahm, Austin Davis and Josh Taylor, and try to bring in a better right-handed arm in their place.



This is the path Red Sox fans should fear most, and unfortunately it’s a path that’s looking more likely by the day.

See that list of pending free agents up above? I left a couple of big ones out. Xander Bogaerts is expected to opt out of his current contract to hit the free-agent market again this fall, and J.D. Martinez is also in the final year of his five-year contract. If the Red Sox plan to contend then those two aren’t going anywhere at the deadline. But if not? Bloom could burn this whole roster to the ground.

Bogaerts and Martinez would net an impressive return should they be made available — as would Eovaldi — and most if not all of the other pending free agents could become expendable and collectively might bring some real value as well. The Red Sox already have two minor league catchers on the 40-man roster who could fill in for Vázquez and Plawecki, the rookie crew of Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski and Brayan Bello could finish out the year in place of any starters who get dealt, and Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder could conceivably keep manning the outfield as they have for much of the summer already.

The roster could become unrecognizable, and a fire sale of this magnitude would signal the end of Boston’s playoff hopes for 2022.



Remember when I said Path 1 would be the most exciting and least likely path the Red Sox could take? I lied.

The Red Sox trading for Juan Soto would be a radical and transformational move, one that would reverberate for decades and forever change the trajectory of the franchise. It would also completely shatter every existing assumption about the Red Sox, Chaim Bloom’s front office and the club’s future, which is why the idea seems preposterous even if there’s no reason why the Red Sox couldn’t pull it off if they decided to go for it.

What would it take to land the 23-year-old superstar? Probably Rafael Devers and top prospects Marcelo Mayer and Brayan Bello as a start, with likely several other top prospects and other sweeteners thrown in as well. Then the Red Sox would have to sign Soto — who just turned down a 15-year, $440 million offer from the Washington Nationals — to the largest contract in MLB history, one that would make Mookie Betts’ 12-year, $365 million deal with the Dodgers look like chump change.

Could it really happen? I wouldn’t count on it, and if you’re going to spend that kind of money, it might make as much sense to just lock up Devers and keep the prospects. But if Bloom decides the best path forward for the franchise is a hard reset, building around a future Hall of Famer for the next decade-plus wouldn’t be a bad way to do it.

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