The Mets were one of the teams with a scout at Fenway Park on Friday night. He saw the Sox lose, 4-1, to the Milwaukee Brewers.
He also watched as Christian Vazquez went 2 for 4 with a double while guiding rookie righthander Brayan Bello through 4⅓ solid innings. The Mets need a catcher and a designated hitter and the Sox just so happen to have Vazquez and J.D. Martinez on expiring contracts.
You can be sure a scout or two will find their way into the ballpark on Saturday morning to see Michael Wacha throw a three-inning simulated game as he returns from a shoulder injury.
If Wacha shows he’s healthy, he’s another trade chip. So are Jake Diekman, who has pitched very well of late, and Nate Eovaldi.
The Red Sox open a seven-day road trip in Houston on Monday, then the trade deadline hits on Tuesday. What will the roster look like when they get back?
You can expect it to be different. The standings show the Sox are only 3½ games out of a playoff spot with 61 games remaining. But your eyes see a team that has lost 12 of its last 15 games and isn’t really a contender.
The Sox are poor defensively and don’t get remotely enough offense from their first basemen and the outfielders.
The rotation is thin with Chris Sale again on the injured list and the bullpen needs another righthander.
The roster will improve as Wacha, Rafael Devers, Rich Hill, and Trevor Story return from injuries. There’s even some optimism Matt Barnes has started to solve his problems.
But that’s not enough to merit additions.
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom are on record saying there have been no trade discussions involving Devers and Xander Bogaerts.
That’s different than saying they are off the table. But it seems unlikely the Sox would further alienate their already frustrated fan base by trading Bogaerts and Devers. But until the deadline passes, you can’t be entirely sure.
However, it would be surprising if Martinez is still a member of the team on Wednesday. It’s hard to draw up a more likely trade candidate.
He turns 35 next month, will be a free agent after the season, and has a .987 OPS over 30 career playoff games. Martinez has only nine home runs this season but still carries an .819 OPS thanks to 30 doubles. In 2017, the Tigers traded Martinez to the Diamondbacks on July 18. He went on to hit .302 with a 1.107 OPS in 62 games for Arizona with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs.
The Diamondbacks won the Wild Card Game then were eliminated in the next round by the Dodgers. But they loved having Martinez.
So have the Red Sox. He’s a fanatical worker in the batting cage and more than willing to share his experiences and methods with teammates.
Martinez has played for four organizations over his 12-year career and is fully prepared to add another to the list.
At this point in his career, Martinez is a full-time DH. Despite Alex Cora claiming in spring training that Martinez would get work in the outfield, he has yet to play even an inning of defense.
Bloom, who prioritizes versatility, is not likely to want to retain an aging DH. That’s not his style.
Vasquez is a different story — or should be. He was drafted in 2008 and no current player has been in the organization longer. He’s also a reliable catcher who hits well, a commodity difficult to find.
But Vazquez has received no assurances about his status from team officials. He’s waiting like everybody else to see what happens.
That the Red Sox would consider trading Vazquez comes as a surprise to rival evaluators. They see a player who has started 70 percent of the games behind the plate in the last four seasons, played above-average defense, and hit .272 with a .745 OPS.
The average for a catcher in the majors this season is .226 with a .659 OPS.
Vazquez has been criticized for his pitch framing. But if Major League Baseball transitions to an automated strike zone in 2024, framing won’t matter.
The alternatives for the Red Sox would be career backup Kevin Plawecki or 26-year-old Connor Wong, who has eight games of major league experience behind the plate.
The Sox also have Ronaldo Hernandez, a burly hitter who has struggled learning the position.
Most of the Sox players were scrolling through their phones within a few minutes of Friday’s loss. There were quiet conversations about Seattle acquiring ace pitcher Luis Castillo from the Reds.
The Sox and Mariners are separated by four games in the standings. Seattle is going for it as the Sox wait to see who will be coming back to Fenway for the next homestand.