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Expect Red Sox to strike a deal on deadline day

UPDATE: And so they have! Addison Reed to Red Sox »

BOSTON -- Dave Dombrowski probably won't get shut out Monday.

Dombrowski hasn't sat out many trade deadlines during his long career as an executive, and with the Boston Red Sox facing serious threats to their defense of the AL East crown from the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, it's unlikely he will simply take a long lunch between now and 4 p.m. ET.

But don't bet on Dealin' Dave pulling off a blockbuster, either. The Red Sox simply don't have the assets for that. After depleting the farm system over the past 20 months in trades for Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale, there isn't enough left to swoop in for an 11th-hour grab of Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray, Zach Britton or Jose Abreu.

As one American League talent evaluator put it, the Sox "shopped at Saks and got a possible Cy Young guy [Sale], but you have to shop at Target also."

So, even as the Rays beef up their bullpen and the Yankees angle for Gray after already landing third baseman Todd Frazier, relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and starter Jaime Garcia, the Red Sox will likely settle for acquiring a late-inning reliever, no small addition considering the bridge to Kimbrel is looking creakier by the day after a first half of overachievement. Even Dombrowski's father remarked to his son during the All-Star break, "Gosh, it looks like you really need a setup guy" -- and that was before hard-throwing right-hander Joe Kelly injured his hamstring.

It might not be San Diego Padres lefty Brad Hand, even though the Red Sox have closely scouted him. Because Hand is under control beyond this season, the price has been relatively high, according to multiple major league sources.

New York Mets right-hander Addison Reed, on the other hand, has an expiring contract and likely can be obtained for a package of middling prospects. Last week, the Colorado Rockies added side-arming reliever Pat Neshek, a free agent at season's end, for three minor leaguers -- only one of whom ranked among their top 30 prospects.

While a reliever such as Reed would address the bullpen's need, the Red Sox believe that recently acquired utility man Eduardo Nunez can spark an offense that lacks home run power and is prone to widespread scoring outages. Nunez, acquired from the San Francisco Giants late last Tuesday night, has already made an impact, going 5-for-12 and driving in three runs in a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

Beyond that, though, Dombrowski and manager John Farrell have sent out signals recently that the Red Sox are counting mostly on stronger performances from the players who are already here. On Sunday, Farrell singled out right fielder Mookie Betts, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and first baseman Mitch Moreland, each of whom has slumped badly over the past few weeks.

"I think the biggest thing is we need for our guys that are currently here to get back on track," Farrell said. "What's been encouraging the last couple of days, we're starting to see some better timing out of Bogey. He's been such a pivotal offensive player all the way around. To get him back on track would be key. Mitch, Mookie, the guys are here, we've got to get those guys back to their capabilities and a little bit more consistent."

Said Dombrowski: "Some of the times guys have to do it themselves from within. That's what it really comes down to."

That doesn't mean Dombrowski will sit on his hands Monday. The man who made deadline moves for the likes of Anibal Sanchez, Jose Iglesias and David Price to improve contending Tigers teams always seems to have something up his sleeve.

But with a payroll that is already nearing the $196 million luxury-tax threshold, the Red Sox are largely who they are. Dombrowski believes he built a team capable of winning another division title and isn't about to sacrifice top prospect Rafael Devers, prized 18-year-old lefty Jason Groome or Triple-A first baseman Sam Travis in another megadeal. Instead, Dombrowski is putting much of his faith in the players to perform at the level he expected.

And that might be his greatest trade deadline gamble yet.