For the Boston Red Sox it’s go big or go home time. There can be no down-the-middle this season at the trade deadline. This is not the season to trade away prospects for bullpen help or infield depth or even a number two starter.
This is the time to go all in or … do absolutely nothing at all.
By all in, I mean a blockbuster trade for Felix Hernandez.
Pipedream? Perhaps. But a team like the Red Sox has the luxury to think big. They have the prospects and the money to allow their dreams to be stunted only by their own imagination.
The Red Sox have never been the type of team of team to shy away from the blockbuster deal, and they should not be shy now.
This is an ownership who traded for Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Victor Martinez. This is an ownership who traded away Nomar Garciaparra in 2004—then the face of the franchise.
Let’s consider King Felix. He would electrify Boston again. He would electrify the team and the fanbase like no one since Pedro Martinez.
Let’s compare Martinez to Hernandez over their first six seasons. Keep in mind Martinez spent four years with the lowly Montreal Expos before being traded to Boston—not unlike the teams Hernandez has been on in Seattle.
Martinez: 84-46, 2.98 ERA, 1,221 K, 373 BB, 1,146 IP, 1.102 WHIP. He won his first Cy Young award when he was 25-years-old.
Hernandez: 85-67, 3.24 ERA, 1,264 K, 424 BB, 1,338.1 IP, 1.224 WHIP. He won his Cy Young award when he was 24-years-old.
Over his career, Martinez struck out 27.7 percent of the hitters he faced. Hernandez has struck out 25 percent of the batters he has faced so far in his career.
Beyond their remarkably similar numbers, Hernandez would give the Red Sox what Martinez did in 1998. When Martinez arrived in Boston it felt as if the Red Sox had been reborn. The same would happen with Hernandez. Obviously Martinez is one of the great personalities in the history of baseball and fans would be wrong to expect the same out of Hernandez, but his arm would do all the talking.
General Manager Ben Cherington could put his name on the map with a deal like this.
Seattle has been unwavering in their statements on their desire to not trade Hernandez. But what else are they going to say? No GM would come out and state they are taking offers for the heart and soul of their team.
Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
When you have the best or near the best, why would you want to trade him? I'm just not in the mood to trade Felix Hernandez.
But oh, how his mood could change if the right package of prospects and big-league-ready talent came along.
Time for speculation:
For starters, I would make either Jon Lester or Josh Beckett available to Seattle (although their interest in Beckett probably would be limited and Beckett can veto the trade).
Seattle does not have a shortstop. The Red Sox have an abundance of shortstop prospects. Jose Iglesias should be ready to play in the majors as early as this season. Iglesias would be an immediate cost-controlled upgrade at that position for Seattle.
Although one of Seattle’s top prospects Nick Franklin is currently playing short for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, he may not end up at shortstop at the Major League level—especially if a guy like Iglesias was aboard. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com stated, “Some feel a move from shortstop might be in Franklin's future.”
One of Boston’s top catching prospects, Ryan Lavarnway or Blake Swihart, would probably be on the table.
It may even take a Jacoby Ellsbury to get Zduriencik in the mood to part ways with King Felix. But the Red Sox have top CF prospect Jackie Bradley, Jr. waiting in the wings. Even top shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts could make the move to the outfield.
Alex Speier of WEEI notes:
Though Bogaerts is a shortstop, at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he is filling out in a fashion that may ultimately lead to a shift to either the outfield or third base.
With Will Middlebrooks at third, Bogaerts will most likely end up taking a spot in Boston’s outfield.
Seattle would probably demand one more pitching prospect and the Red Sox would probably have to take Chone Figgins’ contract and his .186 batting average off Seattle’s hands.
Is it worth it? You bet your life it is.
The Red Sox would have to give up a lot. Ok, more than a lot. But it is the kind of grand move the Red Sox need right now. And landing Hernandez would not mean a rebuilding process—the Red Sox have depth in their farm system and it is time to use it.
If a deal cannot be worked out, the next option is to do nothing. I submit doing nothing is better than using prospects on players like Brandon McCarthy or Wandy Rodriguez at the trade deadline.
They would make nice additions to any team—but they are not difference makers. They probably would help the Red Sox sneak into that second wild card spot. But is that what the Red Sox are really aiming for? Would Rodriguez or McCarthy really be the missing link for a deep playoff run?
It would be better to just allow their prospects to develop and see if the current roster can turn the season around.
Hernandez is the prize. Regardless of what Seattle says, every team has their price. Cherington should make this priority number one. The Red Sox actually have the pieces to make this happen. King Felix could be the next Pedro.
The Red Sox, and their fans, need a shakeup. Hernandez and his electric arm would provide exactly that.