HOUSTON — The trade deadline is not until July 30, well off in the distance. But can the Red Sox wait that long to improve their lineup?
Wednesday’s 2-1 loss against the Houston Astros demonstrated again that when the top of their order isn’t hitting, the Sox don’t have anywhere else to turn.
They have scored four runs in the first three games of this series and only 28 over the last nine games. Finding ways to score has been a chore.
Garrett Richards allowed two runs over six innings on Tuesday and Nick Pivetta did the same on Wednesday. Both took losses.
“Right now it seems like we have a lot of guys who are struggling,” manager Alex Cora said.
The Sox scored a run in the first inning Wednesday and left the bases loaded. They did not advance a runner beyond second base the rest of the game.
Cora correctly pointed out that offense is down across the game. This is hardly something unique to the Sox.
But there are clear positions in need of an upgrade.
Based on OPS, the Sox are in the bottom five offensively in the American League at first base. They have given rookie Bobby Dalbec every chance to get hot and it hasn’t happened.
The promise he showed at the end of last season and in spring training hasn’t carried over.
Or they could bring in an outfielder and play Kiké Hernández at second base.
Triple A outfielder Jarren Duran will be an option, perhaps as soon as the All-Star break. He had a .991 OPS in 18 games for Worcester before joining Team USA for the Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in Florida.
Duran is 3 for 10 with two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base through two games. US manager Mike Scioscia has thought enough of Duran to hit him second.
Once Duran arrives, he’ll add speed to the lineup as well.
But the Red Sox can’t count only on Duran to bridge the gap in their lineup. To date, he has played only 100 games above Single A. Their preference would be to get him more time in Triple A and be promoted when he’s ready, not when he’s needed. There’s a big difference there.
With the amateur draft moved back to July 11-13 this year so it can be held in conjunction with the All-Star Game, some non-contender may be more willing to make deals in June.
Only a handful of teams — the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Pirates, Rangers, Rockies, and Tigers — are without realistic postseason hopes at this point of the season.
The Twins have been a colossal disappointment but are unlikely to embrace a full rebuild given their young talent.
The Nationals aren’t a team built to concede. The same is true of the Angels, at least not any time soon.
Seattle executive vice president and general manager Jerry Dipoto is always up for a deal, but the Mariners started play Wednesday only three games out of first.
Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron is off to a good start and would represent a short-term commitment with a small addition to the payroll. He’s an example of the kind of player who could soon be on the market.
Putting Diamondbacks infielder Eduardo Escobar at second base would add some thump. Would Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander be an upgrade?
Even with their offensive woes of late, the Sox are in second place in the American League East, two games out of first. They are so far much better than was expected and certainly ahead of schedule considering how much the roster has been flipped over the last 18 months.
It’s unlikely Chaim Bloom would dip into the collection of high-end prospects he has collected over the last two seasons to make a significant trade at this stage of his plan.
Counting Hernández, the Sox are carrying four utility players on the roster. They’re short a reliable hitter who can lengthen the lineup.
“What kind of adjustments can we do right now?” Cora said. “There’s not much we can do. You trust the process.”