6 Realistic Trades Boston Red Sox Could Make at 2014 MLB Trade Deadline
The Boston Red Sox have been playing well as of late, which muddles their outlook entering the trade deadline.
Does GM Ben Cherington look at the balance of the season so far and determine that Red Sox players just haven't performed up to their abilities—and won't? Are there too many factors working against the team to take out four other clubs en route to the division title?
Or will Cherington reason that this squad looks a lot different than the one that dug the original hole? That the arrivals of Brock Holt, Rubby De La Rosa and Christian Vazquez, among others, give the team hope? That underachieving Red Sox players can produce in the second half and perhaps spark another worst-to-first run?
This kind of ambiguity is what figures to keep the Red Sox in a state of uncertainty leading right up to the trade deadline. With two directions to go and a fanbase to satiate, it's likely that any deal Boston does will be geared toward shoring up 2015 and 2016 squads, without compromising the ability of the 2014 club to make a run at the division title.
Potential blockbusters, which were explored in this space last week, are not the focus of this piece. What are the most realistic deals Boston could make leading up to the trade deadline?
While some of these realistic trades may not have the bang that fans like to read about, the repercussions could have a major impact moving forward for Boston's chances at contention this year and down the line.
6. A Royal Deal
Boston Red Sox trade: LF Jonny Gomes
Kansas City Royals trade: SP Sam Selman
Carrying a backup outfielder who makes his living hitting left-handed pitching and is an impending free agent is not a high priority for the Red Sox to keep.
If other teams come calling and give up a quality player, Gomes certainly could be dealt by the Red Sox.
Add in the left fielder being considered a "proven winner" (John Tomase of the Boston Herald was the latest to slap this tag on Gomes) and it's easy to see other teams in contention looking to pry Gomes from Boston. In addition, Gomes is well-regarded in the clubhouse and could help bring a winning mentality to the Royals' inexperienced roster.
Gomes has been specifically linked to the Royals, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. Kansas City is in the hunt for a right-handed bat, as they fight to stay above .500 and in contention for the division.
The price to acquire the 33-year-old would not be high. Gomes is a backup outfielder limited defensively, having a down year with a .238/.333/.368 line (as compared to a .244/.335/.447 career line) and is an impending free agent. There's only so much value one can get for him.
This iteration of the trade has Gomes swapped to Kansas City for starting pitcher Sam Selman, who popped up on John Sickels' top 20 Royals prospects for 2014, at No. 10.
Selman is a risk, but picking up a left-handed starting-pitcher prospect with the chance to blossom is good business for many clubs. Sickels is most concerned about Selman's control, which has taken a small step forward in 2014. After finishing 2013 with 6.1 walks per nine innings at Class A Advanced, the 23-year-old's mark has been driven down to 4.9 BB/9 in Double-A.
With so many Red Sox starting-prospect pitchers having already graduated to the majors or about to, Boston will need to shore up its depth at the high levels in short order. Selman can help provide depth in the coming seasons while giving the Red Sox an opportunity to groom the Texan for a career as a left-handed starter.
Why the Red Sox wouldn't do this: Gomes would fetch so little in a trade, it probably makes more sense to keep him and his vibrant clubhouse attitude around to fuel a push to the playoffs.
5. Reds Land Carp
Boston Red Sox trade: 1B/LF Mike Carp
Cincinnati Reds trade: SP Ismael Guillon
Mike Carp would likely fetch more in a deal than Gomes, due to Carp's age (at 28, Carp is five years younger than Gomes) and his ability to play first base.
Carp has also developed a reputation for coming through in the clutch, as Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe writes. Carp is backed by his AL-leading nine RBI as a pinch hitter in 2013. He has also delivered in some big situations for Boston, including a walk-off single on July 10 against the Chicago White Sox.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, has lost first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips to extended absences due to injury. There's an immediate opening Carp can fill by manning first base. His ability to patrol left field is a bonus as well.
When Votto returns and squeezes Carp out of regular playing time, the Reds would still value the left-handed hitter as a weapon off the bench, given his success as a pinch hitter.
In return for Carp, Boston would take a similar track to the return for Gomes: chasing depth in the rotation.
Ranked ninth on Baseball Prospectus' Top 10 Reds prospects list, Guillon is projected to be two years away from the major leagues.
The 22-year-old has "plus raw stuff," according to Jason Parks (subscription required), with solid secondary pitches. The biggest issues facing the left-hander are control problems, plus poor mechanics. He projects as a mid-rotation pitcher, or he could be a weapon in the bullpen.
Guillon earned a promotion to Class A Advanced after posting a 3.17 ERA in 65 1/3 innings for Class A Dayton, but he has found Bakersfield to be a tougher challenge. Through six starts, Guillon has a 8.38 ERA, while his BB/9 has risen from 3.7 in Dayton to 4.3 in Bakersfield. Similarly, his strikeouts per nine innings have dropped to 6.8 from a 9.6 K/9 in Bakersfield.
Why the Red Sox wouldn't do this: With Gomes set to be a free agent after the year, Mike Napoli's contract expiring after 2015 and David Ortiz not getting any younger, Carp could receive an enhanced role with Boston quickly.
4. Drew to Tigers
Boston Red Sox trade: SS Stephen Drew
Detroit Tigers trade: OF Steven Moya
The Detroit Tigers have somehow made it through the entire season with Andrew Romine and Eugenio Suarez as its shortstops, but the club will certainly be seeking to upgrade the position at the deadline.
The Red Sox could benefit by offering up Drew to Detroit. While the shortstop has gotten the season off to a slow start, his bat has started heating up, and his defense continues to turn heads. While Drew received credit for his steady defense during the 2013 season, as MLB.com's Ian Browne writes, he's been particularly adept on defense in 2014.
Drew's "Ultimate Zone Rating" prorated over 150 games, as provided by FanGraphs as a barometer of fielding prowess, has the 31-year-old's 14.4 mark as a current career best. A big fan of his happens to be a Red Sox pitcher:
Jon Lester on Stephen Drew: "I could care less about his offense. I love what he brings to our defense."— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) July 14, 2014
Drew's bat, meanwhile, appears to be ice-cold if one examines his season line of .162/.239/.283 in just 30 games. However, his July stats tells a far different story than June.
In June, as Drew was getting his feet wet and essentially going through spring training on the fly, the shortstop hit a putrid .143/.169/.190 in 65 plate appearances. While his contact issues have continued in July, he's at least doing something with the pitches he hits.
Through 49 July plate appearances, Drew is hitting .225/.367/.525. Now Drew is getting on base and putting a charge in the ball when he makes contact.
Despite the increased production, it's unlikely that the Tigers will trade for Drew unless the Red Sox cover the vast majority of his contract, which is a prorated $14.1 million. If Boston agrees to that—and there's no reason it shouldn't, to enhance the return for Drew—they could target outfielder Steven Moya.
Moya was on Jason Parks' Top 10 Tigers prospects in the 2014 offseason, ranking No. 8. The calling card for the outfielder is his raw power, which is "off-the-charts." However, he doesn't excel at hitting, which limits his power.
That said, the 22-year-old's stock has definitely risen this season. In his first taste at advanced competition in Double-A, Moya has rocketed 23 home runs already, checking with a .262/.288/.540 line. Clearly, he has a long way to go to learn plate discipline, but right-handed power is currently lacking in the major leagues. Boston would love to add a bat with that type of power to its system.
Why the Red Sox wouldn't do this: If Boston trades Drew, they would have a hole at shortstop. It could be filled by moving Xander Bogaerts back to shortstop, but the team may want to keep Bogaerts at third base long term. Meanwhile, Brock Holt would be overexposed as a regular shortstop, and Triple-A prospect Deven Marrero needs more seasoning on the farm.
3. Peavy Deal in the Cards
Boston Red Sox trade: SP Jake Peavy
St. Louis Cardinals trade: OF Randal Grichuk, RP Sam Tuivailala
Peavy has done wonders in recent days to improve his stock. Over his last six starts, he has a 4.21 ERA that would be better if not for a seven-run clunker against the Seattle Mariners in that span. Over his three most recent starts, he's given up six runs in 19 innings, good for a 2.84 mark.
Most pitchers perform better in the National League as well, where this proposed trade has Peavy headed to. The Cardinals are on the hunt for starting pitching, as Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez struggle in the rotation and Michael Wacha remains on the shelf with injury.
Peavy would represent a low-cost addition for St. Louis, which has aspirations of playing in October.
Boston's end would net an outfielder and reliever. As discussed in proposed blockbuster trades on Bleacher Report last week that would have sent John Lackey to St. Louis, Grichuk has raw power lurking in his bat he has yet to display. However, he's major league-ready and can fill in at the outfield. He's a fourth outfielder long-term, but that has value.
Meanwhile, Tuivailala popped up on Parks' Top 10 Cardinals prospects list in the offseason. While he didn't rank as a top prospect, the 21-year-old can bring the heat, as the relief prospect can touch 100 mph with his fastball. That could get Tuivailala to the majors quickly, although the former infielder needs some more time to develop his control and breaking pitches.
With four impending free agents in the bullpen, Boston would certainly appreciate an arm that throws gas and could show up in a big-league bullpen as early as 2015.
Why the Red Sox wouldn't do this: The only reason Peavy is not traded is if no team steps up with a deal good enough. Otherwise, he's a goner—Boston has other pitching prospects it needs to get into the majors who have the potential to be just as good as Peavy.
2. Mariners Haul in Victorino
Boston Red Sox trade: RF Shane Victorino
Seattle Mariners trade: OF Dustin Ackley, SS Chris Taylor, OF Jabari Blash
Realistically speaking, this trade is a virtual lock to not happen.
But it can't be ruled out.
The Mariners are "casting a wide net in search of a bat," ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. They're even discussing DH Billy Butler of the Royals, whose slugging percentage at the time of the tweet was .355.
If Shane Victorino can prove he is healthy after missing all but 21 games through the All-Star break, the Flyin' Hawaiian could end up being a tremendous fit for Seattle.
The Mariners need offense, specifically in the form of an outfielder. They need someone who can display power, which Victorino has done; he smacked 15 home runs for Boston in 2013. The 33-year-old's .451 slugging percentage in 2013 was his best mark since 2011 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
If Boston was willing to cover a decent amount of Victorino's contract that carries him through 2015, the Mariners could be intrigued by adding a dynamic player to its lineup.
Any deal would almost certainly include Ackley, a former first-round pick for Seattle that has busted. Still, teams still see potential in Ackley, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets:
on #mariners, also hear a lot of teams are asking about dustin ackley. others see potential there.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 18, 2014
The Red Sox could take a flier on Ackley for the rest of the season and see if they can get the talent that tantalized many coming into the draft out and producing.
In addition to Ackley, whose trade value is limited, the Red Sox could pick up two positional prospects. Shortstop Chris Taylor isn't a fantastic prospect, but he is starting to turn heads, despite his lack of a signature skill. Taylor is a strong all-around player who could end up being a solid starter around the infield, as Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks writes.
Jabari Blash, meanwhile, is an all-or-nothing prospect.
As John Sickels of Minor League Ball writes, Blash could have a limited batting average but still retain "enough power and patience to be valuable anyway." It seems like he could end up being a lot like Chris Carter of the Houston Astros, who simply doesn't hit enough to deserve to start but has great power and can take a walk, making him a valuable property off the bench.
Or Blash could simply flame out in the minors and never come close to the majors. Still, with power in great demand across the league, Blash is well worth checking out, especially as the final piece to round out a deal.
Why the Red Sox wouldn't do this: If the team isn't prepared to move Victorino without a resurgence or if Boston feels like it can't turn to Mookie Betts full-time in right field just yet.
1. Brave New World for Lackey
Boston Red Sox trade: SP John Lackey
Atlanta Braves trade: Mauricio Cabrera, Alec Grosser
In a deal that falls short of being a blockbuster, the Red Sox would deal Lackey to the Atlanta Braves.
The motivation to move Lackey from Boston's end includes selling high while the team can and opening space in the rotation for the likes of Allen Webster and Brandon Workman.
Lackey has been a revelation since returning from Tommy John surgery. Over the last two seasons, the right-hander has a 3.63 ERA in 48 starts with a 2.0 BB/9 and 7.8 K/9—strong numbers. Add in the fact that Boston has a club option on Lackey to make the major league's minimum salary in 2015 and it's easy to see why so many teams would love to install Lackey in their rotations.
To give up Lackey, essentially punt the rest of 2014 and affect their chances at contending in 2015, the Red Sox will need get significant value back.
The No. 3 prospect from the Atlanta system, according to Baseball Prospectus, would be a good start. Cabrera, according to Jason Parks, has an electric arm with a fastball that can reach 100 mph. He needs work on his secondary pitches, but they are coming along, and Cabrera could morph into a starter worthy of pitching in the front of a rotation like Lackey is currently.
But there is a chance that the 20-year-old never develops his breaking pitches, and he can never get his mechanics online (a current issue) which would limit his ceiling to a reliever. Currently, the right-hander has made just five starts on the season, plus seven relief appearances, between the Rookie League and Class A Advanced, with a combined 3.32 ERA, 4.5 BB/9 and 8.3 K/9. Those are hardly eye-popping numbers.
From Atlanta's perspective, the addition of Lackey for the postseason push this year, plus another year at the minimum salary, would be well worth giving up Cabrera's upside.
Parks calls Grosser a sleeper as a projectable right-hander who is still plying his trade in rookie ball.
Why the Red Sox wouldn't do this: Moving Lackey would send a clear signal that the team is rebuilding for 2015 and has given up on 2014. GM Ben Cherington may not be prepared to send this message to the clubhouse. Plus, would Cherington give up Lackey for two players as far away as Cabrera and Grosser are?