Boston Red Sox Trade Rumors: Lester, Napoli, Uehara All Could Punch Ticket Out Of Beantown

The Boston Red Sox went from worst to first last year, winning the American League East, the AL pennant, and finally the 2013 World Series, just a year after finishing in last place in their division, 29 games below the.500 mark

This year, in 2014, the Red Sox have gone back to worst again, at least coming out of the All Star break, sitting in the Al East basement at 43-52. With the July 31 trade deadline quickly bearing down, the Red Sox are still said to be making the decision whether they will be buyers or sellers this season.

“Time will tell,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell, who guided Boston to a World Series trophy in his first year at the helm, told The Boston Globe. “I’m not privy to every conversation [General Manager] Ben [Cherington] has. This is a busy time of year for the entire industry. So I’m sure there will be additional rumors continuing to grow.”

Right now, with neither Farrell nor any of his players — at least according to their public statements — willing to concede the season just yet, the Red Sox are looking increasingly as if they will be “buyers,” attempting to improve their team with acquisitions that could set Boston up for a run at least at one of the AL’s two Wild Card slots.

Prior to playing their first game of the second half Friday night, the Red Sox sat eight games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card berth, but with a half-dozen teams between them and that sought-after playoff spot.

On the other hand, if the Red Sox make what many baseball experts say is the sensible call, essentially giving up on the season and looking to build for the future as “sellers,” three top Red Sox stars could soon play their last home game at Fenway Park.

Jon Lester is the number one trade bait, due entirely to his contract demands. In the final year of his deal, Lester is said to want more security than the Red Sox are willing to offer in terms of years on his next contract. With prospects of re-signing the All Star lefthanded hurler appearing bleak, and with Lester at age 30 theoretically entering the prime of his career, the lefty with the 3.66 career ERA could bring a healthy return of young prospects to the Boston organization.

Seemingly unhittable closer Koji Uehara, on the other hand, is 39 years old and though he has proven almost as dominant in 2014 as last season, closers fall off the table quickly, especially older closers. And with no prospect of a pennant race, an ace closer becomes a disposable asset.

Finally, the Red Sox last week began receiving trade inquiries about slugging first baseman Mike Napoli. Boston went to great pains to acquire Napoli before the 2013 season, waiting patiently for the former catcher to resolve some medical issues.

But his shelf-life in Boston appears to have expired quickly as the team remains mired in a season-long slump.

Along with reliable bullpen set-up man Andrew Miller, another lefty, and righty Jake Peavey who has drawn interest from the St. Louis Cardinals — the Red Sox 2013 World Series opponent — those three big names appear the most likely to be wearing another Major League uniform on August 1, as the Boston Red Sox look to retool for another pennant run, if not in 2015, then in the following year and beyond.