Red Sox at the cross­roads on trade dead­line day.

We’ll soon find out if the Red Sox are con­tenders or pre­tenders.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - MATT BURKE @burke_metro

The 2017 sea­son for the Boston Red Sox reaches a crit­i­cal junc­ture to­day.

It is the day of the MLB trade dead­line and the Sox are likely to make a move. We just aren’t cer­tain yet whether it’s go­ing to a be a mon­ster deal or some­thing that’s barely worth post­ing on the trans­ac­tion wire.

In ad­di­tion to in­com­ing or out­go­ing play­ers, the in­cum­bent Red Sox seem to be at a cross­roads. Are they a World Se­ries con­tender or are they set to crum­ble in the fi­nal two months of the reg­u­lar sea­son? Right now, it’s a coin flip — es- pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that they are just 7-9 post-All­Star break and are now neck and neck with the Yan­kees for first place in the AL East.

Here’s the lat­est on all things Red Sox.

Trade day

The early re­turns on new third base­man Ed­uardo Nunez are ter­rific as he had two hits in his de­but on Friday night, and he belted two home runs in his sec­ond game in a Boston uni­form. Nunez was swing­ing a hot bat be­fore Dave Dom­browski traded for him last week, but it’s highly un­likely he keeps up this pace. In other words, Nunez is not “the sav­ior” for this team and Dom­browski will surely at least tin­ker with the ros­ter on Mon­day.

The Red Sox have not been linked to A’s starter Sonny Gray, Rangers starter Yu Darvish or Tigers starter Justin Ver­lan­der much (or at all) in re­cent weeks — so it’s doubt­ful that Dom­browski trades for an­other starter.

If a pitcher is brought to Boston it will most likely be a re­liever. The hot name over the week­end was Mets closer Ad­di­son Reed, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosen­thal re­ported the Sox had sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est.

Ob­vi­ously the Sox’ of­fense re­mains lack­lus­ter and a big bat is needed. De­spite Alex Ro­driguez’s pre­dic­tion a few weeks back, it’s not look­ing like Dom­browski will bring Detroit’s Miguel Cabr­era to town. All has been quiet on the Miggy front for weeks now.

A big salary swap of David Price for Cabr­era is noth­ing but talk ra­dio dream­ing at this point. Detroit is right there with the Red Sox for high­est pay­roll in the ma­jors and would want no part of Price’s con­tract.

Fire Far­rell?

The lack of ac­count­abil­ity in the Price-Den­nis Eck­er­s­ley mess by Far­rell was dis­gust­ing, but in no way is it a fire­able of­fense. One could eas­ily make the case that the Sox man­ager has had his best “in-game” sea­son since ar­riv­ing in Boston in 2013.

It’s un­clear if Far­rell was the one who pushed Dustin Pe­droia to speak up about team lead­er­ship and how the buck stops with the sec­ond base­man on Friday, but it’s at least a good sign that this glar­ing issue was ad­dressed pub­licly by a veteran on the team.

Gotta think un­less the Sox com­pletely fall off a cliff in the stand­ings in the next few weeks that Big Jaw John is here to stay through the rest of the 2017 sea­son.

Star sys­tem

For the ma­jor­ity of this sea­son, short­stop Xan­der Bo­gaerts and right fielder Mookie Betts have been av­er­age play­ers. The Red Sox des­per­ately need more out of their two young stars if they are to win the di­vi­sion and go deep in the post­sea­son.

Bo­gaerts went 2-for-4 in the Red Sox’ 9-8 ex­train­nings win over the Roy­als on Satur­day and Betts had RBIs in the first two games of the Roy­als se­ries. So, things are look­ing up for both play­ers — but we’ve heard that song be­fore at points this sea­son.

“I think the big­gest thing is we need for our guys here to get back on track,” Far­rell said Sun­day. “The guys [Bo­gaerts, Betts and Mitch More­land] are here and we’ve got to get those guys back to their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and a lit­tle more con­sis­tent.”


Sandy Leon looks for a safe call from the home plate um­pire Satur­day night in the Red Sox’ ex­tra-in­nings win over the Roy­als.

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