Although now the subject of trade rumors, Josh Beckett is highly unlikely to be traded.
ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, citing an undisclosed MLB executive, reported Monday morning that the Sox are actively seeking to trade Beckett before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Although the Sox would not be able to move him “without a big discount,” according to Edes’ source, the fact that this idea is even being discussed reveals the depth of the organization’s dissatisfaction with their struggling ace.
After a strong series win against the New York Yankees that saw the team win twice in their final at bat, the Sox appear poised to climb back into the AL Wild Card chase.
It would be odd, then, for GM Ben Cherington to move Beckett now.
Certainly, Beckett has been a lightning rod over the past year as the team has repeatedly faltered in trying circumstances. Nevertheless, he remains a critical member of the team and one upon whom the Sox will depend if they want to make the playoffs.
For many reasons related to both the Sox as well as other teams, it is unlikely that Beckett would really be traded. Here are five of them:
As everyone knows, Beckett has struggled badly this season.
In one of his worst efforts of his 12-year MLB career, the right-hander has compiled a 5-9 record to go with a 4.57 ERA. His 6.8 SO/9 rate is the lowest he has ever put up. His 0.9 WAR puts him on pace to barely be considered a viable MLB starter by season’s end.
Quite simply, he is not very good right now. Pitchers who aren’t very good rarely fetch anything substantial in a trade.
Beckett’s track record does help to some degree, but the reality is that the Sox would be unlikely to get much for him right now. That alone is probably enough to dissuade Cherington from making a deal.
Despite the many ugly stats that Beckett has posted this year, some of them are actually not entirely his fault. Beckett’s .302 BABIP puts him in the top half of qualified MLB starters and thus reflects a level of unluckiness that inevitably will correct itself.
He also has posted near-career bests in HR/9 (0.7) and BB/9 (2.4) rates, two areas he has always struggled with.
While these numbers certainly don’t excuse the many poor performances and erratic levels of effectiveness, they also indicate that Beckett has not been as bad as we might think.
Although there are only two months left in the season, the potential for a significant correction in Beckett’s numbers. Even if he just returns to normal, it could provide the Sox with the boost they need to secure a wild-card berth.
If Beckett goes, who replaces him?
It’s a simple question, but one that would obviously need to be answered before any trade is consummated.
Daisuke Matsuzaka? Too unreliable and injured.
Daniel Bard? We’ve seen how that goes.
Franklin Morales? Too valuable as a reliever.
While there might be other options internally, none seems especially appealing. As the Sox have no doubt learned, the price of acquiring a veteran via trade is also likely to be exorbitant.
Even though Beckett provides his share of headaches, he also lends some semblance of stability to the starting rotation, particularly compared to the above options.
His numbers may indicate otherwise, but Beckett is paid like an ace.
The right-hander is owed $15.75 million in each of the next two season, a huge number that none of the 29 other MLB teams will be willing to pay on their own. He will be 33 years old next season, not exactly a prime age for pitchers.
For someone to take on Beckett’s contract, the Sox will likely have to absorb a substantial portion of the financial burden.
For a true ace, most teams would be willing to maintain a level of flexibility with this issue. However, with the tighter luxury tax restrictions now in place with the new CBA, the Sox are simply not going to find a team willing to deal for Beckett without a huge cash windfall as well.
Even if all of the other reasons listed are overlooked and Cherington does manage to find a deal for Beckett, the whole thing could easily be submarined by the pitcher himself.
As a player with 10 years of MLB service time and five of it with his present team (known as the “10/5” rule), Beckett is protected by a full no-trade clause. This means that no matter where he is dealt or how much maneuvering goes into it, he holds all the power.
Beckett is not going to want to go to a non-contender simply because the Sox aren’t happy with him. So, if the Sox were to somehow finagle a deal that landed them Ryan Dempster and sent Beckett to the Chicago Cubs, there is virtually no chance it would actually happen.
For better or for worse, Beckett is going to be able to choose where he plays the rest of this season and beyond.
Unless something drastically changes, that city is going to be Boston.