Boston Red Sox: 5 Players They Should Move Before the MLB Trade Deadline

Douglas Sibor@dcsiborContributor IJuly 24, 2012

Boston Red Sox: 5 Players They Should Move Before the MLB Trade Deadline

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    At 48-49 and in last place in the AL East, the Boston Red Sox are in a tenuous position as the July 31st MLB trade deadline fast approaches.

    They do not know whether they are buyers or sellers, a question unlikely to be resolved within the next week due to the addition of the second wild card team.

    However, regardless of their position in the standings, the Sox have several players on their roster that they should seriously consider moving. These moves would affect both the short and long-term prospects of the team, with sizable improvements likely being made in both categories.

    Here are five key members of the Sox roster that they should try to trade before the deadline:

Josh Beckett

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    For all his off-field drama this season and last, the curmudgeonly Beckett could have won back the fans’ support simply by performing well on the field in 2012. He has not done that.

    Beckett’s disappointing effort has produced a 5-8 record (worst winning percentage of his career), 4.53 ERA (third-worst) and 7.0 K/9 rate (second-worst). He has repeatedly put the Sox in holes to start off games, posting a 10.69 ERA in the first inning.

    The cost of having Beckett on the team has finally outweighed the positives, and the Sox would be wise to unload the right-hander now. While it may be difficult to find a destination suitable for him (Beckett has a full no trade clause due to being a “10-5” player), the Sox must do all they can to rid themselves of what has become a troubling distraction.

Mike Aviles

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    Any potential deal has little to do with Aviles himself, instead having much more to do with moving the franchise forward. With their best lineup now finally healthy and playing every day, the importance of Aviles’ bat has declined dramatically.

    If the Sox believe in Jose Iglesias, now would be a good time to get him some big league experience without the pressure of needing to produce at the plate. Getting time on the field during a pennant race would also help the slick-fielding shortstop develop an understanding of the intensity of a late-season MLB game.

    It is also worth noting that Aviles is fast approaching a career high in at bats. With a previous career high of 424 ABs in 2010, at 362 he is currently on pace to easily surpass that total. This bears watching because Aviles is someone who has had a multitude of injury problems in the past.

Kelly Shoppach

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    Like Aviles, trading Shoppach is more a step towards the future than it is an indictment of his play. In fact, the burly backup catcher has been quite good.

    His .528 slugging percentage and .887 OPS have given the Sox ample offensive help, and his defense has been as good as advertised. While Shoppach is throwing out just 30 percent of base stealers after nailing 41 percent last season, this decline can be attributed almost entirely to the Sox pitchers’ inability to hold runners on.

    However, with Ryan Lavarnway waiting in Pawtucket, the time has come for the Sox to move Shoppach and give the youngster a chance. Many contenders will be looking for a strong backup catcher, so the Sox should not have a problem finding a suitable trading partner.

Jon Lester

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    Prior to his disastrous effort against Toronto, Lester had earned the faith of Sox fans that despite his struggles, he would turn it around.

    11 earned runs later, it may be time to reevaluate.

    Lester must be commended for being accountable after his poor starts, facing the media after every one. The poor results weigh on him heavily though, as the left-hander told ESPN Boston after Sunday’s outing against Toronto that, “It’s hard for [him] to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye right now.”

    While it may not be an ideal scenario, the Sox and Lester could both benefit from a change of scenery. If the Sox were able to package him in a deal for a front-line starter like Zack Greinke or even Josh Johnson, they should seriously consider pulling the trigger. 

Jacoby Ellsbury

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    Even though he just returned, Ellsbury has perhaps the greatest trade value of anyone on the Red Sox. Coming off an amazing offensive season last year that saw him finish second in the AL MVP voting, the speedy center fielder would surely attract a lot of suitors on the trade market.

    While the Sox would love to keep this budding star around when his contract expires after next season, they will likely have several huge obstacles in resigning him. Scott Boras, Ellsbury’s agent, will surely take him to the open market in an effort to drive up the price.

    Given what Carl Crawford received last year (seven years, $142 million), Ellsbury can expect to get at least that much, if not more, due to his younger age and better numbers.

    Because of how difficult it may be for the more budget-conscious Sox to keep him, exploring a trade for Ellsbury now would be best for the future of the team. His value will diminish next year due to the compensation rules in the new labor agreement, so if they are to move him, now is the time.