Jacoby Ellsbury is one of several Sox who could be traded during the 2013 season.
As spring training gets going and the team begins to come together, the Boston Red Sox look to have their MLB roster pretty much settled. Barring injuries, all major questions have been answered in terms of who will be playing each position, and now they’re left to simply fine-tune each player’s individual role.
Some of these players are going to be asked to fit into roles they may not like, and likewise the team may be unhappy with the roles they’re asking some people to fill. GM Ben Cherington has often stated that this team is an incomplete puzzle, and that he is always on the lookout for ways to make it better.
If the right trade comes along, Cherington undoubtedly would be ready to pull the trigger. The Sox have several assets that could draw interest across MLB, and have a willingness in the past to make a deal if the price is right.
Let’s take a look at five players on the Sox roster who could be traded this season:
The former All-Star closer was a disaster last season, not appearing in his first game until August 14 and compiling a 7.04 ERA in his 19 appearances. The Sox did not feel confident handing him the closer’s job after such a poor effort, acquiring Joel Hanrahan and immediately anointing him the team’s ninth-inning stopper.
While obviously a great asset, having Bailey as a set-up man doesn’t do much for the Sox. Especially if he starts the season well and stays healthy, he’ll attract a lot of interest from many of the closer-poor teams in MLB.
Given that the Sox seem to have great bullpen depth this year, if the right offer comes around for Bailey you can expect them to pull the trigger early.
While GM Ben Cherington told The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham last week that Salty will once again be the Sox’s starting catcher, that doesn’t mean the team will stop fielding offers for him. While having a catcher who can hit 25 home runs is a huge plus, it does not make him untradeable.
Saltalamacchia has many deficiencies at the plate; namely, he strikes out far too often (139 last season) and doesn’t get on base nearly enough (.288 OBP). His defense is solid, but unspectacular.
If a starting pitcher goes down and/or Ryan Lavarnway looks strong in Pawtucket to start the season, the Sox’s catcher may be one of the first to go.
The Sox did everything but hand the starting job to Lavarnway last September, but the young catcher was very disappointing as he hit just .157 with a .459 OPS in 153 at-bats. The result is that barring injury, Lavarnway will start the season in Triple-A Pawtucket and will likely spend most of the year there.
While it is undoubtedly a setback, the delay in Lavarnway’s arrival does not destroy his value. He is still young (he won’t turn 26 until August) and has made huge strides defensively.
If the Sox feel set for the next two years with a Jarrod Saltalamacchia-David Ross duo, though, there’s little reason to keep Lavarnway around. He could bring in a good young player in a trade, and the Sox have another highly touted catching prospect (Blake Swihart) coming up through the system.
The volatile Aceves was at his worst last season, although it seems like he was merely one of many who despised former manager Bobby Valentine. Despite doing a reasonable job as closer in Andrew Bailey’s stead for the majority of the season, the Ace imploded at the end of the year in posting a 9.27 ERA after August 23.
While new manager John Farrell will give Aceves a clean slate, he is also a no-nonsense kind of guy who will not tolerate the shenanigans that went on last season. The days of stomping around the mound to avoid the manager are over.
If Aceves gripes about his role, he could be sent out quickly. His versatility, experience in seemingly every situation and reasonable salary means that the Sox would be able to get some decent value for him despite his occasionally erratic behavior.
This is obviously the big question mark, as Ellsbury is in the final year of his contract and figures to at least test the free agent market in the offseason. While it would be nice for the Sox to lock him up long-term, it seems unlikely that the sides will be able to get anywhere close to a deal this season.
After a near-MVP 2011, Ellsbury again suffered a freak injury and was forced to miss a ton of games last season. While questions about his durability seem overblown (both major injuries were the result of collisions on the field), it’s worth wondering if the Sox want to commit huge dollars to an outfielder who relies on speed and turns 30 in September.
If Ellsbury returns to form, there will be a number of suitors for his services. Especially if they are falling out of the race, the Sox could look to deal Ellsbury early and usher in the Jackie Bradley Jr. era in center field.