Red Sox Trade Scenarios: 7 Best Deadline Fits for Boston
The Boston Red Sox need help. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia are all back in the lineup. David Ortiz should not be too far behind.
Still, the Red Sox are just as mediocre as ever. Red Sox fans have been patient all season. Fans have held the “when they get healthy they’ll be one of the best in baseball” mantra close to their hearts this season.
Sadly, this is just is not the case.
It seemed the Red Sox were about to turn a corner with a Cody Ross walk-off home run against the Chicago White Sox. But just like everything else this season, the Red Sox followed it up with disappointment by being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays.
I am not a believer the Red Sox should stand idly aside and simply just let the rest of the season play out with their current roster. The sample size is big enough now.
The sample size tells me they just are not good enough. Yes, the talent is there. But whether it is Jon Lester underperforming, or drama, or injury—this current version of your Boston Red Sox does not seem capable of getting the job done.
What is clear: the Red Sox need to change.
The best deadline fit may be for the Red Sox to blow it up and start over. That’s just not going to happen. You have the second wild card spot to thank for that.
Obviously, Red Sox fans would hope the best deadline fits involved adding a missing piece here or there—but this team has to get bold. It’s go big or go home time for your Boston Red Sox.
You can file some these scenarios as wishful thinking, and you can file some under definite possibilities. But one thing is a common thread throughout, they all could help the Red Sox make a run at that second wild card spot.
Here I look at 7 possible players the Red Sox should look at as the trade deadline approaches.
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This one is purely my speculation. But if we're going to start a slide show—let's start it with a bang.
Hernandez is such a game changer it is difficult not to include him on a list of best "fits" for Boston.
There has been zero chatter that would constitute an actual rumor for King Felix—but the speculation that Seattle should trade him seems to never end.
Ok, so this probably won’t happen. But at this point, why shouldn’t the Red Sox kick the tires on this possibility?
In fact, they should do more than kick the tires—they should shake the whole car.
Even with King Felix on board, the Mariners simply have too many holes to fill to make full use of his talent. They are a team that needs a lot of help. The Red Sox have the pieces to fill those holes.
It would take a huge package of prospects, and most likely a pitcher on the staff (Jon Lester) to pry King Felix away from Seattle.
He is worth it.
Sometimes prospects are worth more in trades than they are in their actual value on the field.
In 1997, The Red Sox traded Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr. for Pedro Martinez. Pavano and Armas, Jr. were some of Boston’s top pitching prospects. How did that deal work out for Boston?
My point is, if you have the opportunity to get a dominant major league ace, you trade your top prospects for him.
Again, this is just my speculation.
The Red Sox would have to give up top prospects, Jon Lester, and probably have to eat Chone Figgins' contract. But a deal like this would mark the start of new chapter in Red Sox history.
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The possibility of acquiring Josh Johnson is an intriguing scenario, and there is traction behind this scenario.
Anibal Sanchez is off the market and has a new home in Detroit. That leaves Johnson.
Johnson is the prize of the two, anyway. When healthy, Johnson can simply dominate. He is not in King Felix territory, but he has the stuff of an ace. His pitching shoulder could scare off some teams, but Johnson is too good to turn down if a deal presents itself.
Over the past three seasons Johnson has gone 19-14, with a 2.84 ERA. He has 338 strikeouts in 357.2 innings pitched over that time.
If we look at what it took Detroit to get Sanchez, we can assume it would take a top prospect from the Red Sox to land Johnson. The centerpiece of the Detroit deal in Miami's eyes was Jacob Turner, one of Detroit's most intriguing prospects.
If this deal presents itself as a possibility, Ben Cherington should think long and hard about it. Johnson is only 28 years old and, if healthy, could be the ace of Boston’s rotation.
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The Oakland Athletics seem to be perennial sellers, and even though they’re in the mix of things right now, they will most likely still consider trades for their future.
According to Dan Knobler of CBSSports.com:
They still see themselves as sellers rather than as contenders. In fact, A's people are hoping Brandon McCarthy pitches well when he comes off the disabled list after the break, so that he can join the long list of pitchers the A's have traded away.
Billy Beane loves his cheap prospects, and the Red Sox could offer a nice package to Oakland for McCarthy. Based purely on my speculation, that package would not have to include Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley or Xander Bogaerts.
In fact, if Beane asked for any of those prospects, Cherington should politely hang up the phone and block Beane's number for the rest of the year.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTradeRumors.com wrote McCarthy's "history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value."
So, in what seems like an expensive trade market for starting pitchers, perhaps McCarthy would be slightly cheaper.
The 29 year old McCarthy would be a rental and would likely cost the Red Sox some prospects on the trade market. But is he worth it? That all depends on what you think the Red Sox will be the rest of the year. Are they the team that gave Red Sox fans hope with Ross' walk off home run? Or are they team that was swept by the Blue Jays?
This season McCarthy is 6-3, with a 2.54 ERA. He has 52 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. He has walked 19 hitters this season.
McCarthy falls under the Johnson category—when healthy, he would be the best pitcher on the Red Sox.
He has not pitched since June 19. But on July 18, McCarthy threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session and everything went well. (h/t San Francisco Chronicle)
Of course it is always risky to trade for a pitcher with a lingering injury, but if the Red Sox are intent on saving this season they may need to look further than Lester and Josh Beckett.
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Matt Garza knows the AL East and would be a nice fit in the middle of Boston’s rotation.
The Cubs will be sellers at the deadline and Garza could be the fit the Red Sox are looking for.
The Red Sox have shown interest in Garza for weeks now and as recently as July 20 were viewed as the favorites to land Garza.
According to ESPN:
ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney was on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike show on Friday morning and discussed the latest trade rumors regarding Cubs starter Matt Garza. Like ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, Buster pegs the Red Sox as an early favorite to land him at the July 31 deadline.
But as evidence on how quickly the trade market can change, on July 23 the Dodgers were tied to Garza. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweeted:
Cubs not resting on their laurels continue trade discussions with Dodgers on deal that would send Matt Garza for package including Zach Lee
— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 23, 2012
In any case, the Red Sox would be wise to continue their pursuit of Garza.
In the three years he spent with the Tampa Bay Rays he went 34-31, with a 3.86 ERA and struck out 467 hitters in 592.1 innings pitched.
He is also 5-3 at Fenway Park.
Matt Garza would not be a rental player and that will drive up his price on the trade market. But how much would he cost?
In my July 19 piece on Matt Garza I noted:
So there is the possibility the Red Sox could acquire Garza and still hold onto some of their top prospects. But the fact that Bowden is reporting Lee is part of the package the Dodgers are offering the Cubs may cool Cherington on a Garza deal.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Lee is the Dodgers top prospect.
Of course, the Dodgers-Cubs scenario Bowden posited still has not occurred. In my humble opinion, Garza is not worth a top prospect.
But if the Cubs are willing to listen to offers on Garza that do not include Barnes, Bogaerts or Bradley—a Red Sox/Garza fit may just be in the making.
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According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, Francisco Liriano, “may become the most attractive left-handed pitcher on the trade market if Cole Hamels signs an extension with the Philadelphia Phillies.”
Trust me, I am not putting Liriano in the same class as Hamels.
Liriano is 3-10, with a 5.31 ERA in 100 innings pitched this season. But those numbers do not fully reflect his value as a starter.
Morosi notes, “since returning to the rotation May 30, he is 3-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 10 starts.”
There is some traction to the Liriano/Boston connection.
Liriano is 28 years old and is a free agent at the end of the season. I don’t foresee the Red Sox signing Liriano to a long term deal (my speculation). That puts him in the rental player category.
But if the Red Sox believe Liriano’s recent success is not a fluke, he could be a nice fit for a struggling Red Sox rotation.
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Acquiring Betancourt could allow Bobby Valentine to use Franklin Morales as a starter.
In 36 games this season, Betancourt has a 3.09 ERA with 16 saves.
Betancourt could make an excellent setup man or closer for the Red Sox. When Andrew Bailey returns the Red Sox could have a powerful 7-8-9 setup of Alfredo Aceves, Betancourt and Bailey to close out games.
As far as what it would take to get Betancourt—Zach Links of MLBTradeRumors.com writes, "Boston likely wouldn't want to give up prospects for him but could offer an outfielder."
That outfielder could come in the form of a Daniel Nava or Ryan Sweeney. I’m sure the Rockies will ask for Cody Ross as part of a deal for Betancourt, but Ross has become too important for the Red Sox to trade away.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported the Rockies want to be "overwhelmed" to trade Betancourt. Even so, he is a pitcher the Red Sox should continue to keep tabs on.
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The lone hitter on this list, Alfonso Soriano could offer protection if Carl Crawford’s elbow does not hold up for the rest of the season.
Soriano could even be a suitable replacement for David Ortiz should Ortiz’s ankle plague him the rest of this season. In fact, many GM’s see Soriano as a DH at this point in his career. (h/t CBSSports.com)
Soriano is having a very productive year hitting .271, with 18 home runs and 56 RBI.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, “The Cubs are willing to pay a very substantial portion of Soriano's deal or take back comparably "bad'' contracts to make a deal.”
If a deal went down for Soriano, it would be interesting to see what "bad" contract the Cubs would be willing to exchange for Soriano.
Of course, Crawford’s contract comes to mind. But unfortunately, Crawford’s contract is beyond bad for the Red Sox and might just be unmovable. The other bad contract that comes to mind is John Lackey’s (remember him?) five year, $82 million deal.
If the Red Sox can figure out a way to get out from Lackey’s contract in a deal for Soriano’s contract—it’s a win for the Red Sox.