As we approach the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline, the Boston Red Sox will be looking to make a trade or two to help the team stay in playoff contention.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is looking to upgrade the bullpen as the team has had poor middle relief from Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima over the last few weeks. 

Epstein has reportedly considered many names such as Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Kerry Wood, Kyle Farnsworth, and David Aardsma as possible targets. 

Arguably the top reliever available with Matt Capps heading the Twins is Blue Jays relief pitcher Scott Downs.  Downs, has an impressive 2.34 ERA in 47 games for Toronto.  However, the Blue Jays are asking for either Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias for Downs, a price that they are not willing to pay.

Even with the unlikely acquisition of Downs, the Red Sox still have other options that could come much cheaper.

One name that hasn’t been mentioned at all and who has numbers better than Downs and is also a left handed pitcher is Chicago Cubs reliever Sean Marshall.

Marshall, has been the Cubs primary bridge to Carlos Marmol. This season, Marshall has put up a 6-3 record with an amazing 1.71 ERA in 53 appearances. 

Marshall‘s name has not come up at all in trade rumors, and the Red Sox could make a serious run at him.  Unlike Downs, Marshall’s price tag is likely a lot lower.

The Sox have been looking for a set up man along with Daniel Bard to pitch and hand the ball off to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning.  Their current middle relievers besides Bard are Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima, who both have an ERA over 5.

Marshall is by far the best fit right now for the Sox as a reliever.

The Sox have also been looking into a possibility of bringing in an outfielder to hold down the fort in left field until Jacoby Ellsbury returns. 

Names such as Jayson Werth and Corey Hart have been thrown around, but both are unlikely to move at this point.

However, a guy that no one has really paid attention to who is having an all right season and is a real bargain is Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, Marshall’s teammate.

Fukudome, has been forced into a pinch hitting role in Chicago in favor of Xavier Nady.  This season, he has a .250 AVG with 8 HR and 26 RBIs. 

The Red Sox have previously shown interest in Fukudome, but were not a fan of his salary.

However, due to lack of interest, the Cubs have tried to draw the Sox back in by offering to pay for most of Fukudome’s 2010 salary as they have been trying to trade him since June.

A Marshall and Fukudome deal for the Sox could be a real bargain and probably their best option to get better at this point.

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