With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nearing, the Red Sox have interest in acquiring a package consisting of third baseman Martin Prado and reliever David Phelps from the Marlins, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
The Red Sox’s interest in Prado isn’t anything new, as both Nightengale and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe have reported that they’re eyeing the 33-year-old. However, Cafardo noted Saturday that the Red Sox have reservations about Prado’s contract, which will see him earn another $34MM through 2019. Boston wants Miami to eat some of the money remaining on Prado’s deal, and given that the Marlins seem to be in payroll-slashing mode, it’s possible they’d be open to that.
The Sox would be the sixth team for Prado, who has generally been a quality contributor throughout his career. That hasn’t been the case this year, though, as Prado has slashed an uninspiring .270/.302/.385 during an injury-affected, 129-plate appearance campaign. Unfortunately for first-place Boston, the numbers that its third basemen have posted this year pale in comparison to Prado’s lackluster output. The combination of Deven Marrero, Josh Rutledge, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Hernandez, Tzu-Wei Lin and Steve Selsky has batted an ugly .231/.288/.327 en route the majors’ third-worst fWAR at the position (minus-0.4). Among that group, only Marrero and Lin are both healthy and at the major league level at the moment, while Selsky is at Triple-A. Of course, the Red Sox have a much more prominent third base option in the minors in Double-A standout Rafael Devers, Baseball America’s sixth-ranked prospect, but they’re not eager to promote the 20-year-old yet.
While the hot corner has caused headaches for Boston, its bullpen has been a strength. The unit entered Sunday ranked third in baseball in ERA and fifth in fWAR, with each of Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Fernando Abad and Blaine Boyer having logged production ranging from respectable to great. Phelps would make the unit all the more formidable (but would also join Kimbrel, Kelly, Barnes, Hembree and Boyer in providing yet another righty option), though acquiring him isn’t going to be easy.
Half the league has contacted the Marlins about Phelps, who’s amid his second straight solid year and his first as a full-time reliever. On a reasonable salary now ($4.6MM) and controllable via arbitration through 2018, the 30-year-old has notched a 3.56 ERA, 9.63 K/9, 3.35 BB/9 and a 46.4 percent ground-ball rate over 43 innings this season. For their part, the Marlins are willing to move Phelps, who has already been in a package deal with Prado in the past. The Red Sox’s chief rivals, the Yankees, sent the duo to Miami prior to the 2015 campaign. Boston is now trying to fend off the playoff-contending Yankees in the AL East, and the Sox could turn to two former Bombers to boost their chances.