Josh Beckett walks of the field after being relieved. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Builders Not Sellers

Oh, my God, we’re having a fire! Sale.

As Tobias Funke famously suggested, maybe it’s time for a fire sale. Now before you jump all over me I’ll let you know that I believe the Sox are going to be buyers, not sellers. I’m just hopping on Mr Rogers’ train to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. The Red Sox have been opposed to make right decisions for a few years now, so I don’t expect them to make the right move in this instance. You may be opposed to the Sox selling, but aren’t you sick of not watching the Red Sox in the playoffs. This will be the third straight year of golf in October; maybe it’s time to mix things up. First thing we’ll do is target players that the Red Sox can trade, players that they won’t be building around. Secondly, I will throw out potential trades for such players.
There are three lists. Pitchers I would try to trade, hitters I would try to trade, and players that I don’t need to trade, but would for the right price.

PITCHERS
Josh Beckett
Matt Albers
Aaron Cook
John Lackey
Mark Melancon
Vicente Padilla

HITTERS
Kelly Shoppach
Mike Aviles
Nick Punto
Carl Crawford
Daniel Nava
Scott Podsednik
Cody Ross
Ryan Sweeney

FOR THE RIGHT PRICE
Daniel Bard
Jose Iglesias
Jacoby Ellsbury
Jon Lester

Trade #1. Josh Beckett and Matt Albers to the Dodgers for Zack Lee, Chris Withrow, and Scott Van Slyke. (I would include Kelly Shoppach if the Dodgers would add a better second prospect)

Why the Red Sox should do this deal: Beckett is a problem in the clubhouse. I don’t really believe in addition by subtraction so that’s why the Red Sox are getting a high upside pitching prospect, who is still a ways away. Beckett is still owed 15.75 over each of the next two seasons plus the rest of his salary this season. Albers makes 1.075 million this year and is arbitration eligible next season. The Red Sox will save over $33 million. That’s what they’re giving up. They would get Zack Lee. Lee is the Dodgers top pitching prospect and it was rumored that they would have given him up (plus a package) for Garza. Beckett has slightly worse numbers, although in a tougher division, plus is signed to longer years. Beckett’s contract isn’t one that would scare teams away. Lee is only 20 years old but hasn’t put up good numbers in the minors. In Single-A this year he only walked 1.6 batters per 9, while striking out 8.5. However, Double-A has seen those walks go up to 5 per 9. I expect that will lower once he gets going. Chris Withrow is a 23 year-old pitcher who has recently been moved to the pen. That move could very well be permanent. Withrow has good stuff but his control is still in question. He averages 5 walks per 9 in his minor league career and 9.3 strikeouts. Those are similar to Daniel Bard’s numbers as a starter in the minors. Scott Van Slyke is already 26, not much of a prospect anymore, but he’s torn up Triple-A. He hasn’t had success in the majors, but he’s a throw in player that the Sox can take a chance on.

Why the Dodgers should do this deal: First of all, if they would give up Lee for Garza, they should for Beckett. Beckett would be their second best starter and his numbers should be even better in the National League, in Dodger Stadium. His ERA with the Marlins was .36 better than with the Red Sox. Albers and his 2.35 ERA would be a nice addition to the bullpen. If the Dodgers are serious about making a run at the playoffs, this would be one of the best moves left that they could make. The new Dodgers ownership is showing their willingness to spend.

The next trade I would do would involve Ross or Sweeney.
It’s been reported that the Reds and Pirates have scouted the Red Sox outfield extensively.

Trade #2: Cody Ross and Mike Aviles to the Pirates for Tony Sanchez, Nick Kingham, Alex Dickerson.

Why the Red Sox should do this deal: Both Ross and Aviles (abr. elig) are free agents after this year, so why not get something for them? Tony Sanchez went to school at BC and was once a highly thought of prospect. Here is what piratesprospects.com says about the catcher who they list in their 4th tier of prospects.

Tony Sanchez was hitting for a .277/.370/.390 line in 141 at-bats in his second run through Double-A. At the age of 24, and in his second run through Double-A, he should have been putting up better numbers. He got hot in his final two weeks at the level, which was enough to send him up to Triple-A. His path is similar to the one Jordy Mercer took. Struggle in year one in Altoona, start slow in year two, then take off around the middle of May. The biggest concern with Sanchez is that he’s not hitting for power. In his two seasons at Double-A he combined for an .087 ISO. He improved this year, with a .113 ISO, but once again it was his second year at the level. Until he shows improvements, I’d put his upside as an average starter, with his value fueled by his defense.”

Kingham is a 20 year old who is throwing 95. Besides the fastball piratesprospects says he has two other above average pitches. Alex Dickerson is 22 and still at A-ball which is worrisome but he was drafted with no true position so maybe he’s destined for the AL. He’s expected to hit for power.

With these prospects, the Red Sox can consider Sanchez as a potential starting catcher a couple years down the line and eventually Kingham is expected to be a middle of the rotation guy. I don’t have high hopes for Dickerson but maybe he can become a DH.

Why the Pirates should do this deal: The Pirates would only be taking on what is left of Ross’ and Aviles combined 3.2 million dollar salary. Ross would be their starting right fielder and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Garrett Jones would go to first and Mike Aviles would be a huge upgrade at shortstop over Clint Barmes. Ross would hit 4th or 5th and Aviles would hit 6th or 7th. These additions would be huge upgrades to the Pirates lineup, who look ready to break their under .500 streak and make a playoff run.

Trade #3: Ryan Sweeney and Vicente Padilla for Neftali Soto (and a very low prospect).

Why the Red Sox should do this deal: The Red Sox could go to arbitration with Sweeney this off-season but their OF is already pretty full. Soto could be the replacement for David Ortiz in a year or two. Soto has bad numbers this year, he’s hitting .227 in triple-A, however his career average is .271 and he had 30 home runs in Double-A last season with a .272 batting average.

Why the Reds should do this deal: This is the first deal where I’m not sure if they should. However, Soto isn’t coming up anytime soon with Votto at first and his OBP and AVG are an of concern. Sweeney could be a platoon OF that can backup all 3 positions. Sweeney could even be the starter at CF if the Reds get tired of Drew Stubbs and his below .300 OBP. Padilla would be a solid reliever in the middle of their pen.

Trade #4: Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach HAS to get traded. LAD, LAA, SF, STL, and OAK are all contenders that could use Shoppach. The Sox won’t get much but if they can get a decent prospect for him I’d be happy. I consider his value equal to a relief pitcher prospect who’s expected to be a 7th or 8th inning guy, and not too far away from the bigs, nothing more than that.

Trade #5 Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Iglesias for Justin Upton. I wrote all about this trade here a week ago.  It seems like Upton is less available than he was last week.

Players I haven’t mentioned in trades yet but listed above.

Jon Lester – I wouldn’t trade him. However, if the Red Sox got a great offer for him, I wouldn’t turn it down; either that or if Lester was the centerpiece of a Felix Hernandez trade.

Aaron Cook – If anyone offers something for Cook that won’t cost the Red Sox money, I’d take it. Get something for him, he could be an asset for someone.

John Lackey – No one will offer anything. I just put him on the list because I WOULD trade him if I could.

Mark Melancon – I hated this trade at the time and his value has dropped since. It’s possible that a team needs a reliever desperately. He had good numbers in the NL, if someone offers a good role player or a C prospect, I’d take that.

Carl Crawford – I like Crawford. He’s a good player; the worse thing about him is the contract. He’s playing injured. If someone would take his whole contract, I’d take nothing for him. Just get the money off the books. If they offer a good player (like the prior Hanley rumors) or a prospect, I’d pay some. However, he’s not someone that I’d trade and eat his salary (like Renteria).

Nick Punto – He doesn’t have a lot of value, if someone needs a util and is willing to take his $3 mil next year, I’d take almost anything.

Daniel Nava – I love watching Nava, but he’s not as good as we think he is. He’s slightly better than a 4-A player. You don’t have to deal him, but he’s not going to add much here besides being a 5th outfielder.

Scott Podsednik – He’s injured, and has low value. Dave Roberts-esque. The Red Sox traded Henri Stanley for Roberts. Expect someone of that value… exactly.

Daniel Bard – I’m still hoping they can fix him and have him setup but I’d listen to offers if someone sees him as a future closer.

Let’s take a look at future money off the books if the 5 trades I proposed happen.

$31.50M from Beckett ($15.75M per year, plus the rest of this season)
$1M from Albers. (He makes 875,000 this year and will get a bonus in arbitration this off-season. $1M is a very low guess)
$2M from Aviles. He makes $1.2M this year and is arbitration eligible. I’m going low on his offer too.

$2M from Sweeney. He makes $1.75M and is also arbitration eligible.
$10M from Jacoby Ellsbury. He makes $8.05M this year and has one year left in arbitration.
$2M from Jose Iglesias.
-$9.75 for Justin Upton

The Red Sox are also losing Dice-K’s contract, which is $10M.

So let’s add up next year’s money off the books, including Dice-K but only including 1 year off Beckett. The other year will be future savings. For the sake of the argument let’s pretend that Ortiz comes back at the same salary, which I doubt.
15.57 + 1 +2 +2 +10 + 2 + 10 = 42.75 – 9.75 = $33M

Guessing on arbitration, if the 5 deals I listed happened, the Red Sox would save about 33 million next year.

Assuming that they resign all of the bullpen, this would be their Depth chart.

C – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, Tony Sanchez (top catching prospect)
1B- Adrian Gonzalez, Neftali Soto, Scott Van Slyke
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Nick Punto
SS- Pedro Ciriaco, Punto
3B – Will Middlebrooks, Punto
LF – Carl Crawford, Daniel Nava
CF – Ryan Kalish, Jackie Bradley, Jr. (probably not ready)
RF – Justin Upton, Nava
DH – David Ortiz
SP – Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey
CP – Daniel Bard?
RP – Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa

With 33 mil to spare the Red Sox will need a SS, a CF (maybe), and a SP or two.

SS- Stephen Drew (you all cringe at that last name) has a $10m option that I couldn’t see getting picked up. The Red Sox can probably offer him 7. Jhonny Peralta also has a $6 Mil option. Jason Bartlet would be a defensive gem real cheap who can’t hit ($2.5m?). For the point of this exercise, let’s say they sign Drew for $7mil for a year.

26 Mil left.

CF – Michael Bourne will cost at least 15m, Josh Hamilton will be close to $20m, Shane Victorino at least $14m, BJ Upton, 13ishh. However, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Ross, and Grady Sizemore would all be significantly cheaper. What about Torii Hunter? Would he come to Boston given the bad history here?
Let’s pretend that he came to play with his friend Crawford. 2 years, $8 mil per.

18 mil left.

That leaves a pitcher or two needed. Zack Grienke is someone that would scare me in Boston. But what about Shaun Marcum? He makes $7.73M this year and has excelled in the AL East. What if the Red Sox offer him 3 years and $12M.

That leaves $6 mil for arbitration boosts, adding a bullpen arm, and a couple cheap veteran starters (like Aaron Cook was this year). Those numbers will be a little over $6M but the team salary would be pretty much what it is this year but your farm system is so much better.

This would be the lineup.

LF – Crawford
2B – Pedroia
1B – Gonzalez
DH – Ortiz
RF – Upton
3B – Middlebrooks
CF – Hunter
C – Saltalamacchia
SS- Drew

That lineup is arguably better than this year’s lineup. Plus, you added hitters Van Slyke, Tony Sanchez, Alex Dickerson, and Neftali Soto to the system.

The rotation would be.
Lester
Marcum
Buchholz
Doubront
Lackey

And you added Zack Lee, Chris Withrow, Nick Kingham as pitching prospects.

The bullpen would be Daniel Bard, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa. That’s if you don’t add anyone else.

Honestly, I’m tired of just missing the playoffs. The worst place to be in sports is a fringe playoff team. Most likely you won’t win the World Series, and you’re not bad enough to rebuild. I’m sick of it. Things aren’t working the way they are. It’s time to rebuild. The thing about the Red Sox is, if they do these moves, they will be at least as good as they are now and their system will be more talented. With all this said, 2,500 words later, I don’t expect the Red Sox to be sellers and that’s too bad. And it’s not even that they’d be sellers. They’d be builders. This year is not going to happen, so take a loss for the rest of the year to build something big going forward. The Red Sox need another wave of talent in their system and this would provide that.

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Tags: Cody Ross Jacoby Ellsbury Jose Inglesias Josh Beckett Kelly Shoppach Matt Albers Mike Aviles Ryan Sweeney Trade Deadline Trade Rumors Vicente Padilla

  • Conor Duffy

    What makes you think that Melky Cabrera is not in the top tier of outfielders? Otherwise, great post.

    • PassTheMike

      He’s good, but not elite. This would only be his second year over .300, and with an OBP over .340, he’s never had 20 HR or 90 RBI. He should get good money but not money like Hamilton or Bourne.

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