It’s not often that a three-time All Star and two-time World Series champion is on the trading block, but according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis can be had for the right price.
With a team desperate for pitching, Youkilis could be one of the bigger names moved by the trade deadline.
Because of his contract, age and injury history, it won’t be easy to move him. At the same time, trading away a fan favorite and locker room leader may lead to issues away from the field.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Red Sox trading Youkilis.
One of the game’s better all-around players since he broke into the starting lineup in 2006, Kevin Youkilis is the consummate professional.
When the team acquired superstar Adrian Gonzalez in 2011, Youkilis, who set the MLB record with 238 consecutive games without an error at first base, shifted to third to accommodate Gonzalez, a three-time Gold Glove Award winner.
In addition to playing excellent defense at both corner spots, Youkilis has anchored the middle of the Boston Red Sox’s lineup during the post-Manny Ramirez era.
Although he doesn’t possess the quickest feet or biggest biceps, the “Greek God of Walks” was one of the top first basemen in the American League from 2006-2009.
During that four-year stretch, Youkilis benefited from batting behind the dynamic duo of Ramirez and David Ortiz.
Often batting out of the five hole, he showed tremendous improvement from 2006-2008, increasing his home run totals from 13 to 16 to a career-high 29. He also went from a respectable 72 RBIs to 83 in 2007 before posting a career-best of 115 in 2008.
Along with that increase in power, Youkilis continued to show great discipline at the plate. From 2008-2010, he led the American League with a .964 OPS, outdoing superstars like Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer, according to Chuck Korb of Pro Star Management.
Though rookie sensation Will Middlebrooks has certainly lived up to his billing as a future middle-of-the-order bat, he isn’t nearly as polished as his predecessor.
The 6’4”, 200-pounder has shown impressive pop with six homers and 22 RBIs in just 30 games, but he’s also struck out 30 times and walked just six in that span.
Middlebrooks’ minor-league track record matches up with his current walk-to-strikeout issues as he struck out 18 times and walked seven times in 24 games in Pawtucket this year.
For comparison, Youkilis’ career walk-to-plate appearance ratio is .124, and his career on-base percentage is an impressive .388.
While Middlebrooks has tremendous long-term ability, Youkilis’ ability to play multiple positions on defense and get on base make him an asset for a mediocre team.
As solid as Kevin Youkilis has been for the past eight years, his best days are behind him.
After starting at least 136 games from 2006-2009, injuries have kept Youkilis out of the lineup and sapped him of his usual effectiveness since 2010. The 33-year-old’s 2011 injury report has more entries than a Pacman Jones police report.
According to his profile on Baseball Prospectus, Youkilis had 16 entries in 2011, including hip inflammation, lower back tightness and sports hernia.
In fact, Youkilis’ past two seasons have ended prematurely due to sports hernia surgery and thumb surgery.
At this point in his career, it’s tough to count on Youkilis to be in the lineup and off the disabled list.
This season, he’s already missed 22 games with a lower back strain before returning at the end of May.
Besides his lengthy injury history, Youkilis’ performance has declined over the past few seasons, although he’s been strong in his return to the lineup.
With roughly $9 million left on his contract for 2012 and a $13 million option for next year with a $1 million buyout, it might be in the Red Sox’s best interest to unsaddle themselves from that type of financial commitment.
Unfortunately, it might be difficult to get great value for a player with a rock-solid resume, but with Will Middlebrooks and Adrian Gonzalez set to be the future cornerstones, it might be now or never for the Red Sox to move Youk.