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Who can push Sox over the top?

<p>Out on a 10-day, three-city, West Coast swing, the Red Sox won’t be back in the Hub until July 30 — the day before the annual non-waiver trade deadline.</p>

Out on a 10-day, three-city, West Coast swing, the Red Sox won’t be back in the Hub until July 30 — the day before the annual non-waiver trade deadline.


That means, if history is any guide, the team that left Fenway after Sunday’s loss to the Rangers will not be the team that returns home to play the Tigers. But what move or moves will GM Theo Epstein make? And with the team treading water in third place, will any trades be enough to put the Sox back in the thick of the postseason picture?


Here’s a sampling of players the Red Sox might pursue before the July 31 deadline.



Octavio Dotel, RP, Pirates


Bullpen help is the Red Sox’s one glaring need, and Dotel, currently the Pirates’ closer, could be this year’s version of Billy Wagner. Dotel, 36, is enjoying a fine season, having converted 16 of 18 save opportunities since May 1 while posting a 2.70 ERA. Even better for the luxury-tax challenged Sox, he is making just $3.25 million.



Carlos Villanueva, RP, Brewers


With rookie John Axford having taken over closer duties in Milwaukee, the Brewers are dangling Villanueva, who has 55 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old Villanueva would come even cheaper, making slightly less than $1 million this season, his first as an arbitration-eligible player. He’s versatile, with 27 starts among his 221 career MLB appearances.



David DeJesus, OF, Royals

The walking wounded are slowly making their way back to the roster, with Jeremy Hermida close to full recovery from his rib injury. Presumably, Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t far behind, but given their uncertain status, a solid backup outfielder isn’t a bad idea. In 2004, with Trot Nixon shaky in late July, Epstein acquired Dave Roberts. How did that one work out?