MLB trade deadline: Ranking the Red Sox's top 10 trade targets with Kirby Yates and Will Smith high on the list

Entering Tuesday, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are 10 games behind the first-place Yankees and two games back of the final American League wild-card spot. A big reason why they fell behind in the standings -- aside from their slow start to the season -- is their struggling bullpen. It turned out that Brandon WorkmanMatt Barnes and Ryan Brasier weren't enough to fill the gaping holes left in the bullpen by the offseason departures of Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly.

Boston is 14-11 in one-run games, and sit 28th in the MLB in terms of save percentage. Their 20 saves on the season are in the bottom half in the league; even the Mets, Royals and White Sox have more. They also have 18 blown saves, for the fourth-worst mark in the league.

The Red Sox plan to make right-hander Nathan Eovaldi the team's closer, but manager Alex Cora said that it's likely he'll use the converted starter in high-leverage situations. During Monday's 9-4 win over the Rays, Cora sent out Eovaldi to relieve left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. Eovaldi recorded two outs in his first time on the mound since April 17, while allowing three runs and five hits.

Some of the positives seen from the Red Sox in this second-half of the season include the rotation coming around (added a fifth man in Andrew Cashner), the concerns around Chris Sale have quieted and key position players like Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi who suffered slow starts, are now looking much better at the plate. The biggest priority for Boston at this year's trade deadline will be the long overdue task of filling out its bullpen as well as finding a closer.

Where will some of the biggest names on the trading block end up? Our experts at Sportsline have the odds on who Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner and more will be playing for on Aug. 1.

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, we here are CBS Sports are going to rank the top 10 trade targets for various contending teams these next two weeks. Here are the Yankees' top 10 trade targets. We have also covered the Astros, Cubs and Dodgers.

Now here are the 10 best fits for the Red Sox leading up to July 31.

2019 MLB Trade Deadline: Top 10 Red Sox trade targets
1
Kirby Yates San Diego Padres RP

Key stat: 42.2 percent strikeout rate (third among all relievers)

Over the last two seasons with the Padres, Yates has emerged as an elite reliever. The 32-year-old is probably the best available reliever on the market, and he will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year, so the asking price is bound to be high. Yates holds a league-best 31 saves, and owns a 1.05 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. He's also racked up 70 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Boston could finally have a real closer for the rest of the season if it is able to get Yates in a deal with San Diego. With Yates as an addition to the Red Sox bullpen, the team could use Nathan Eovaldi as a setup man. Or even, have Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes or Josh Taylor step in if Eovaldi needs a day off. Either way, adding Yates as the closer would quiet a lot of the concerns that are out there regarding their shaky bullpen.

2
Will Smith San Francisco Giants RP

Key stat: 52.1 strikeout percentage against left-handers

Smith has been dominant all season long, and the lefty could be the Red Sox's shutdown reliever they've been without so far this season. Smith will enter free agency at the conclusion of the 2019 season, so he would be a rental for the Sox. Smith currently sports a 2.55 ERA with a 63:11 strikeout to walk ratio. The Giants southpaw is also striking out a career-best 13.4 per 9 innings.

Since assuming the role of closer for the Giants in the middle of last season, Smith's first full season as a closer has been incredibly impressive. A first-time All-Star this year, Smith has saved 24 of 26 games and has a 2.55 ERA with a 0.921 WHIP. Plus, he is solid in lefty vs. lefty matchups (.213, 25:1 strikeouts to walks).

3
Brad Hand Cleveland Indians RP

Key stat: 40.6 strikeout percentage (fifth among all relievers in the league)

Indians closer Brad Hand is under club control for another two and a half seasons. He's making $6.5 million this season and will earn $7 million in 2020. The final year of his contract is worth $10 million. A versatile lefty, Hand uses a slider-fastball combination, helping him become one of the most effective late-inning relievers this season. Over the past four seasons, including this year, Hand hasn't had a season ERA over 2.95. Over 41.2 innings pitched this season, Hand has recorded a WHIP of .984.

It's still unclear as to whether or not the Indians will be sellers at the trade deadline, and if they are, Hand could still be a Cleveland player the team decides to hold onto. The asking price for Hand is likely to be high, and even though he'd be a great fit in the bullpen, Boston might simply be outbid by another team.

4
Felipe Vazquez Pittsburgh Pirates RP

Key stat: 98.2 mph fastball (fourth fastest among relievers)

Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski has always preferred hard throwers, so Pirates flame-throwing lefty Felipe Vazquez is probably one that's getting a good look from Dombrowski and his front office. Vazquez's 98.2 mph fastball is tied with Yankees' Aroldis Chapman for fourth among relievers this season. Vazquez still has four years left on his contract following the 2019 season, so he's definitely going to be a more expensive option for Boston in terms of both payroll and any potential trade.

Vazquez, 28, is currently carrying a 1.91 ERA through his first 39 game appearances. He is a versatile relief arm option for the Red Sox; the lefty can be lights-out when it comes to closing and he can also provide a bridge to the other relievers in the bullpen. Vazquez would be a viable lefty reliever addition, and overall, he seems like a perfect fit for the Red Sox.

5
Ken Giles Toronto Blue Jays RP

Key stat: 15.5 strikeouts per 9 innings (ranked for third best in league)

With the Blue Jays, Giles, 28, is in the midst of what could be the best season of his six-year career. Through 33 games, he's posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, while converting 14 of 15 save opportunities. His .230 expected weighted on-base average of .230 ranks for the fifth best in the league among receivers.

He has two seasons left on his contract ($6.3 million salary), and will be an arbitration-eligible player next year. The right-hander has recently dealt with some nerve inflammation in his elbow that he apparently suffered while getting a massage over the All-Star break, so that'll could certainly shy away the Red Sox and other buyers who are seriously considering him. But if it turns out not to be anything serious and Giles manages to stay healthy, he could be a great buy-low addition to the bullpen.

6
Mychal Givens Baltimore Orioles RP

Key stat: No earned runs allowed in his last six games

Givens, 29, throws hard (95.1 mph average fastball) and he's highly likely to be traded (Orioles are sellers, won't become a free agent until 2022). Givens currently is 1-4 on the season with a 4.23 ERA and eight saves. In 38.1 innings, Givens has struck out an impressive 52 batters and walked just 17. He holds a 1.20 WHIP and a 4.63 FIP.

The right-hander's having a down year following a 3.99 ERA in 2018 with a 4.23 ERA in 2019. But Givens is extremely durable - he's pitched in over 65 games each season from 2016-2018 - and his numbers could improve if he were to swap out Camden Yards for Fenway.

7
Shane Greene Detroit Tigers RP

Key stat: 98.2 mph fastball (fourth fastest among relievers)

Greene is another durable and versatile option for the Red Sox. At 30-years-old, he is behind Liam Hendriks for the second-best ERA (1.25) in the American League for relievers. The only reliever in the league that has a better ERA is Kirby Yates. The right-hander has recorded 22 saves in 25 opportunities, and has 40 strikeouts with just 11 walks on the season. Greene is under team control through 2020, and making just $4 million this season. It's no question that Greene would help the Red Sox climb up the standings after July 31, and he'd be a solid addition if the team were to go on a postseason run. The Red Sox will have to see if the rebuilding Tigers are setting a price on Greene that's too high for them to reach.

8
Alex Colome Chicago White Sox RP

Key stat: .153 batting average on balls in play

Following with the theme of this list, Colome is another durable and reliable reliever. The 30-year-old has pitched in at least 40 games in the last four seasons each, including 70 games last season. He signed a one-year deal with the White Sox worth $7.3 million to avoid arbitration last year, and will remain under club control until 2020, so there is still the chance that Chicago would want to retain him, unless the Red Sox can lure them with a can't-refuse offer. Colome pitched for the Rays from 2013 to 2018, so he has plenty of experience pitching in AL East ballparks. Through 38.2 innings in 2019, Colome has recorded 21 saves while keeping his earned run average at a minuscule 2.3. He has also recorded just 12 walks versus 30 strikeouts on the year

9
Daniel Hudson Toronto Blue Jays RP

Key stat: 0.93 ERA in his last 16 outings

Since converting to a relief pitcher in 2014 while with Arizona, Hudson has found his stride this season. The right-hander owns a 2.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, and 2.00 strikeout/walk rate in 43 innings out of the Blue Jays bullpen. Hudson, 32, will be a free agent after this season and is making $1.6 million this year.

He's also surging at the right time, producing a 0.93 ERA over his last 16 appearances. Hudson has held the Red Sox to one run with seven strikeouts over six innings of relief for Toronto.

10
Sam Dyson San Francisco Giants RP

Key stat: career-best 3.7 percent walk rate

Dyson, the Giants setup reliever, is bound to be a trade chip moved at the deadline. He's not at the top for the Red Sox's best options, but he still would be an improvement for the team's bullpen. Dyson has bounced back from a terrible 2017 season, which saw him designated for assignment by the Rangers. Now, with the Giants, Dyson has revived his career and proven himself to be a reliable setup man. In 47 games (49 innings pitched), Dyson has posted a 2.57 ERA and a 2.71 FIP with a 55.6 percent groundball rate and 6.71 strikeout to walk ratio. The right-hander, who's on a $5 million salary, also has team control through the 2020 season, so he could more than just a rental for the Red Sox.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories