The Major League Baseball trade deadline is only 12 days away, and speculation currently surrounds a number of current and former members of the Boston Red Sox.
They may not have had much in common over the last few seasons, and these particular five never even wore the Red Sox uniform at the same time. Now, however, they are all together in the news, with rumors circulating about possible departures from their current teams.
But who among these five has the best chance at moving? Who will likely remain right where he is, at least until the end of the season? Whose fate has yet to be determined?
You'll find out here.
The Atlanta Braves are looking to add another bat, and they are reportedly trying to move the most expensive of their valuable array of arms in order to get it.
Derek Lowe is only 6-7 with a 4.37 ERA this season, but he is a big-game pitcher with plenty of postseason experience (mostly with the Red Sox) that many contenders would welcome to their staff.
The team that has shown the most outward interest in Lowe is the Detroit Tigers. Lowe is a Michigan native who could help stabilize a Tigers rotation that gets a bit shaky after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The Tigers are currently one game back in the American League Central.
The main snag in this potential deal could be money. Lowe is owed $6 million for the rest of 2011 and $15 million for 2012. Part of the reason the Braves wish to move him is to free up cap space to fill other roster needs, so it isn't likely they would be willing to eat any of the necessary dough.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweeted yesterday that the Tigers-Braves negotiations would likely stall over this matter. Still, the Braves' pitching is potent, and their need for another hitter is evident, with Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward having disappointing seasons and Chipper Jones on the mend from knee surgery.
They also currently have a solid five-game lead in the National League wild card race, so they have some freedom to work with.
With the Tampa Bay Rays now eight games back in the American League East and 6.5 games back in the AL wild card, it may not be long until the team cuts ties with some of its 2011-exclusive pieces.
Enter Johnny Damon, who, at age 37, is showing he can still be productive. He is sporting a respectable .275 batting average with nine home runs and eight stolen bases. He leads the team in hits and is third in games played.
And, as Red Sox fans and players can attest, Damon is a strong source of positive energy on the field and in the clubhouse. His joyful veteran presence could be a refreshing addition to many big league teams.
ESPN Insider suggested that Damon could be a fit for the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox or Texas Rangers. His prospective relocation is complicated by his diminished glove and notoriously weak arm. He has played 14 games in the outfield this season and one at first base. ESPN Insider also noted that the Angels, in need of a left-handed hitting first-baseman, could take a shot with Damon.
As far as money is concerned, Damon is only owed about $2 million more this season, so that should be manageable. Add that to Damon's seamless transition into any clubhouse (he's played for six teams with nary a complaint during any of his tenures) and the offensive value he can provide, and there should be a fair amount of interest if the Rays decide to let him go.
Many may not remember David Murphy as a member of the Boston Red Sox; after all, he only compiled 24 at-bats with them. Still, he made his hits count; among the six he recorded were a double, a triple and a home run.
He has been a serviceable player for the Texas Rangers during the past five seasons, hitting .278 with 50 home runs. He's also played strong defense, posting a .990 fielding percentage to this point in his career.
Still, Murphy's time in Texas may be coming to a end. According to beat reporter T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers would likely move the outfielder if he could bring back a quality bullpen arm in return.
Although Murphy's numbers aren't remarkable, it is worth noting that he tends to pick up his production in the second half of the season—a valuable quality for a contending team that may witness a typical decline from its bumped-and-bruised outfielders. Murphy has a .291 career batting average in the second half with a .481 slugging percentage versus .268/.418 in the first half.
It is unclear whether Julio Borbon's ankle surgery—which will keep him out for at least six weeks—will have any effect on the Rangers' desire to move Murphy. The likely answer would be no, with their strong need for a solid reliever and their current surplus of outfielders, with back-ups Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry.
Now, on to a name that Red Sox fans know and love. (I'll pause for the mandatory collective groan that is about to ensue.)
Granted, there hasn't been much of an official word on J.D. Drew's potential departure. But there has been a lot of talk about the Red Sox searching for his replacement.
There have been rumors that the Red Sox are in discussion with the New York Mets about right fielder Carlos Beltran. Some have also suggested that the Red Sox will give homegrown outfielder Josh Reddick a chance to prove himself worthy of the starting spot.
Either way, it looks like Drew's opportunity to break out of his season-long slump is growing shorter. Drew is hitting .222 with just a .630 OPS this season.
What's more, he'll be a free agent after the 2011 season, and the chances that the Red Sox will re-sign him are bleak. His value right now is low, but perhaps a team thinking all Drew needs is a change of scenery will offer Boston a chance to get something for him.
Seeing as the Boston Red Sox are in first place in the American League East, Jonathan Papelbon isn't going anywhere—yet.
With the closer struggling since 2010—his ERA has hovered around 4.00 for the past year-and-a-half—and hard-throwing right-hander Daniel Bard waiting in the wings, it has been speculated that Papelbon could become trade bait. But, for now, with Papelbon still serving as an effective cog in the contending Sox (21 out of 22 save opportunities converted), he is staying put.
Past 2011, however, remains to be seen. Papelbon is in the last year of his contract, and some believe he will test the market in the offseason.
So do Red Sox fans, as they watch their former stars dangle as trade bait and await the imminent transactions that will alter the current roster.