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Boston Red Sox Get: CF Dexter Fowler
Houston Astros Get: SP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Simon Mercedes
Even though the Boston Red Sox had won seven games in a row following a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, it’s no secret that they need to improve offensively. Going into action on Monday, the team had a cumulative .246/.330/.377 slash line and was ninth in the American League with 231 runs scored.
That makes adding Houston Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler a logical move. True, Rob Bradford from WEEI noted that “no deal is imminent,” but he also cited an “industry source” when he wrote that “the Red Sox continue to explore the outfield trade market, particularly possible center field help that might be able to take some of the pressure off of Jackie Bradley.”
Now, the reason Fowler is specifically mentioned is twofold.
First, the Red Sox need a center fielder in the worst way. On the season, the combination of Grady Sizemore and Bradley has delivered a .192/.290/.301 slash line with, at best, mediocre defense. Simply put, losing Jacoby Ellsbury hurt the lineup a lot more than most people anticipated.
The second reason Fowler is mentioned is that he “figures to be available,” per Matt Sullivan of MLB Daily Dish. And making him available makes sense for the Astros, as he is a third-year arbitration-eligible (Super Two) player currently earning $7.350 million dollars.
Given the aggressive youth movement in Houston, any increase in salary for a veteran player may not be part of the plan. Also, don’t forget that rookie right fielder George Springer played 247 games in center field during his four seasons in the minor leagues, so Fowler’s replacement in already on the roster.
Given the fact that Fowler is one of the best trade options at his position, a package that includes pitchers Anthony Ranaudo and Simon Mercedes could be enough to secure his services.
Ranaudo is used here because he appears to be able to crack the starting rotation sooner than the Red Sox's other top-rated pitching prospects, Matt Barnes or Henry Owens. As a matter of fact, Ranaudo is likely their top chip to use this year given Barnes’ struggles (1-3, 5.35 ERA, 1.472 WHIP) and the fact that they will likely hold on to Owens for dear life.
Mercedes (2-5, 3.76 ERA, 1.254 WHIP, 10 G, 5 GS) is a flame-throwing right-hander whose “arm profiles as a reliever at the moment,” according to Marc Normandin of SB Nation’s Over the Monster. True, he has made a handful of starts at High-A Salem and could develop into a starting pitcher, but the bullpen seems to be a safer assumption for now.
Either way, the Red Sox are going to have to make a choice.
They can’t destroy the farm system by adding both a high-profile starter and a position player. If they choose to improve the offense, Fowler fills a position of need and is under team control through next season. He also wouldn’t require a package so expansive that it limits what they can do the rest of this season and into the future.