The 2024 season has been confounding for the Boston Red Sox and their fans. They've played some great baseball. They've also played some terrible baseball. And when you're the general manager of one of the most confusing teams around, it can be difficult to figure out what to do at the trade deadline.

Luckily, we're here to help. It's obvious the Red Sox's situation is a bit muddled, given ownership's unwillingness to spend over the luxury tax and the preposterous number of injuries the club has sustained. But there's also real talent on this team, and in the era where any team with a playoff ticket has a fighting chance, there's no reason the Sox shouldn't put the pedal to the gas a bit.

At the same time, we've got to work within the parameters we know exist. We won't be taking on big-money contracts and we aren't going to move Roman Anthony, Marcelo Mayer, or Kyle Teel, since the Red Sox clearly see those three prospects as a big part of their future. But there is a way to turn this team into a plucky Wild Card contender without sacrificing that future and we're here to unveil the blueprint.

Step 1: Trade closer Kenley Jansen

This move seems inevitable, so let's rip the Band-Aid off right away. Kenley Jansen is an impending free agent making $16 million this season and ever since Chaim Bloom was relieved of his general manager position, the Jansen-Red Sox partnership has felt like a soon-to-be-divorced couple awaiting their lawyers' counsel.

Liam Hendriks is recovering from Tommy John surgery and should be ready to assume the closer role by the trade deadline, so this won't totally kill the Red Sox's chances of making the playoffs in theory. It's never a comfortable feeling to trade away bullpen help, though. But getting Jansen's salary off the books will enable the Sox to execute other necessary maneuvers–and Jansen should have several suitors, by the way.

After his season started as one big tightrope act, Jansen has been excellent of late. He picked up his 12th save in 13 tries Monday night and lowered his season ERA to 2.70. There have already been whispers about Jansen's longtime team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, being a potential fit. Everyone values bullpen help at this time of year and as much as the Red Sox would love to get good prospects for Jansen, the winning bid ought to be the one that shoulders the largest dollar amount of Jansen's contract.

Step 2: Acquire Nationals starting pitcher Trevor Williams

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Trevor Williams (32) walks off the field against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Truist Park.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This is the part of the column where we'd love to say the Red Sox should go after Jesús Luzardo or Garrett Crochet, because their starting rotation lacks any lefty presence and an innings-eater with ace stuff would be a literal godsend for Boston. But we know they won't pony up the prospect capital to get either deal done, which leaves them with second pickings when it comes to the starting pitcher market.

Tyler Anderson might be within the Red Sox's price range too, but personally, I'm skeptical that Anderson will be able to keep up the torrid pace he's been on, or frankly, anything close to it. He's got a 2.58 ERA compared to a 4.69 FIP and the thought of a soft-tossing lefty pitching to the righty-dominant AL East lineups at Fenway Park is terrifying. Which leads us to the Washington Nationals' Trevor Williams.

Williams has a much more reasonable FIP at 2.80 and his expected ERA of 3.23 also inspires much more confidence than Anderson's 4.64. He's added a sweeper to his repertoire in recent years and in 2024, it's been unhittable, producing a .107 opponent batting average.

At 32, Williams is a true rental, his $12 million salary fits within the Sox's post-Jansen budget and though he's not going to give them a ton of innings per start, his current track record strongly suggests those innings will be high-quality. If the Red Sox can acquire him without giving up one of the top five prospects in their organization, the deal will be a win.

Step 3: Acquire Angels infielder Luis Rengifo

The Red Sox have been attempting to cobble a starting infield together ever since Trevor Story was injured in the eighth game of the season and so far, it's been a mixed bag. There have been times the infield defense has been excruciatingly bad. On the other hand, unexpected names like David Hamilton and Enmanuel Valdez have been raking of late, causing some to wonder if the team's infield problems are solved.

At the end of the day, though, the Hamiltons and Valdezes of the world aren't necessarily players you want to rely on down the stretch. And Hamilton exited the game Monday night with left side tightness, so who knows whether he'll be available moving forward? The Sox need another middle infield bat and the Los Angeles Angels' Luis Rengifo is the best fit available on the market.

Rengifo is still just 27, has team control next season in addition to this one, and he's having a killer year. His .317 batting average would rank fifth among all MLB hitters if he had enough at-bats to qualify and his 125 OPS+ is 14 points higher than his career best to this point. His primary position in Boston figures to be second base, which is an ideal insurance policy for Vaughn Grissom and/or Hamilton not returning to form.

Again, if the Sox can hang onto a few other top prospects in addition to the Anthony/Mayer/Teel trio, this deal ends up looking like a huge win. Rengifo is the type of stabilizing force Boston needs in its lineup to make a charge at a Wild Card spot. And as we've seen in recent seasons, once you make it to October, all bets are off.