Red Sox

McAdam: How the Red Sox have boxed themselves into a corner as trade deadline looms

(Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Forget -- for a moment at least -- the possibility that it may not make any sense at all for the Red Sox to attempt to improve themselves at the July 31 deadline.

Let's assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that the Sox finish their current road trip well and play well coming out of the All-Star break, putting themselves in good position to nab one of the two wild-card spots -- if not the AL East title.

The team's needs are obvious: pitching, pitching and then more pitching.

They could use a depth starter, now that Brian Johnson is sidelined with a non-baseball medical issue for the foreseeable future. They do, unquestionably, need at least one experienced late-inning reliever, and likely two.

As is typical for teams looking to make upgrades at the deadline, there are typically two ways to improve: payroll flexibility and a deep farm system. Non-contending teams looking to move established players want one or both. In a perfect world, they'd like to fleece you of your best young (cheap) talent and unload salary.

In a perfect world, they'd like to accomplish both at the same time. But they need at least one of the two.

And here's where things get dicey for the Red Sox.