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Which players should the Red Sox be targeting?

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The major league baseball non-waiver trade deadline (July 31) is fast approaching. In the next couple of weeks the Red Sox will need to decide if they will be buyers or sellers at the end of the month. The prevailing feeling among media and fans is that this season is lost. Do the Red Sox feel the same way? They shouldn't. The Red Sox are a bat or two away from getting right back in the race in a weak American League East. That bat should come in the form of a corner outfielder, third baseman, or shortstop.

With the expansion of the playoffs, it has become increasingly harder and harder to define which teams are buyers and sellers. You want Giancarlo Stanton? Well, the Miami Marlins are only 5.5 games out of the wildcard race... but they are fading.

Here is a list of players that could be viable trade targets for the Red Sox in order from most likely to least likely to happen.

Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Marlon Byrd

Remember him? He had a cup of tea with the Red Sox in that forgettable 2012 season. At the time, Byrd was only a year removed from being hit in the face by a pitch. He lasted only two months with Boston and was subsequently suspended for 50 games for PED use.

That's all water under the bridge at this point. The 36-year-old has rebounded to hit 16 home runs this year. The power is no fluke as he hit 24 home runs last season while hitting .291. He is not an exciting option, but a realistic one.

The Phillies also have a couple of other options. I like John Mayberry, Jr. He won't hit for much average, but the lanky right-handed batter has plenty of power. I'd also check to see if the Phillies have maybe given up on 26-year-old Domonic Brown. The Phillies have him under their control until 2018, but he is having a down year after stroking 27 home runs a season ago. Couldn't hurt to kick the tires. The Red Sox have a shortage of power outfield bats in the farm system.

Dayan Viciedo
Dayan Viciedo Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Dayan Viciedo

I think of Viciedo as a mini-Manny. He hasn't been as successful as fellow recent Cuban defectors Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, but he has still been pretty good. In 2012, he hit 25 home runs. His defense is atrocious, but the Red Sox could use his bat.

Josh Willingham
Josh Willingham Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

Josh Willingham

I've always believed "The Hammer" would eventually play for the Red Sox. This may be the year. I would have preferred it have been a couple of years ago (35 HRs in 2012). He is another power bat who won't hit for much average. He has also struggled with injuries this year. I'd steer away.

Aramis Ramirez
Aramis Ramirez Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Aramis Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez is another one for whom I have been banging my drum for a long time now. Ramirez is a professional hitter who would feast on The Green Monster. His warning track power would translate into 50 doubles in Fenway. He has been a proven run-producer, batting cleanup for the Brewers for most of his three seasons there. The 36-year-old would move Bogaerts back to shortstop. The Sox could then cut ties with A-Ram when Will  Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini prove themselves ready to take over at third base. Makes perfect sense to me.

Seth Smith
Seth Smith Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Seth Smith

The San Diego Padres have a couple of options. Neither are very attractive to me because they are both lefties. Seth Smith is another slugger who I supported the Red Sox signing as a free agent... in 2012. He is a straight platoon hitter who would could complement Jonny Gomes in left field. Oddly, though, the Padres signed Smith recently to a two-year extension. I don't know what to make of that.

Will Venable could be another option. Venable is having a very disappointing season (.191 average, 2 HR) after having a breakout season last year at the age of 30 (22 HR, .268 average).

Again-- I would stay away. The Red Sox need a right-handed bat.

 

Alex Rios
Alex Rios Leon Halip/Getty Images

Alex Rios

Now we get into some of the bigger names. It seems like Rios has been around forever, but he is still only 32. It's also hard to believe that the Texas Rangers are sellers at this point. Remember they signed Shin-Soo Choo to that $130 million contract this past offseason? 

Rios was never much of a  power hitter, and is even less so this year (3 HR in 327 AB). He is a singles hitter who is a plus-defender with a rifle arm. Rios' contract has a $13.5 million team option for next season-- which the Red Sox, likely, would not pick up.

Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier
Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier

The Red Sox should inquire about either Ethier or Kemp, or is it Ethier either or Kemp? Now that I gave you a headache, I'd pass on Ethier. The left-handed Ethier is strictly a platoon player. My choice has always been Kemp. Sure he is owed a lot of money. He has also had ankle and shoulder problems in recent years which have diminished his skills. I'll still take him. The time to trade for Kemp would have been in late May when he was, inexplicably, benched by manager Don Mattingly for a week. Now it may be too late as Kemp went on to hit .317 in June with 16 RBI. With Carl Crawford returning soon, and prospect Joc Pederson looming, there will be a major logjam going on in the Dodgers' outfield. They will need to make a move. The Red Sox should offer to help.

Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton Marc Serota/Getty Images

Giancarlo Stanton

And now we come to the Big Cahuna. Stanton is everyone's darling. Still only 24 years old, Stanton has already proven to be the best slugger in baseball. Now he is hitting for average, too. He has the potential to be the next Miguel Cabrera-- who the Marlins, at one time, also traded away.

The Marlins got off to a hot start, but are, predictably, fading out of the race after losing stud pitcher Jose Fernandez for the year due to Tommy John surgery. I don't see why the Marlins would want to trade Stanton this year, but crazier things have happened with the Marlins' franchise.

Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Troy Tulowitzki

One can dream, right? Or maybe it's not as much of a dream as I think. The Denver Post's Mark Kizla writes that the Rockies might be open to trading Tulo and/or Carlos Gonzalez. The Red Sox have a shortstop problem. Tulo is the best shortstop in baseball. Tulo is available. Simple, right?

The problem is that it would take the same package to acquire Tulo as it would to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. You would have to start with Xander Bogaerts and Henry Owens. You'd have to, probably, throw in a Christian Vazquez and Rubby De La Rosa or Allen Webster.

Would it be worth it for a talented, yet very injury-prone shortstop? Or would you rather go full-throttle after the younger Stanton?

 

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