Rumors Galore as Hot Stove Heats Up
By Brian Phair
As the trade deadline creeps closer, Theo Epstein and his staff are looking around for a good deal or two that will improve the Red Sox roster going forward. There are a million questions and rumors floating around in the hot-stove, but what direction with Theo go? Will he go after an outfielder or focus on pitching depth? Is he willing to part with some prospects for an extra piece or two for this year or is he looking for long-term solutions? Let’s take a look at what is going through the mind of boy wonder.
An interview on WEEI yesterday gave the typical Theo response about what moves he will make at the deadline: We will see what happens. Part of me always feels it’s a great front for all the chatter behind the scenes, but the other part of me believes it is actually his attitude. Before he pulls the trigger on a deal, he needs to be assured it is added value for the Red Sox. If he doesn’t feel like a deal has value for the current year and the future, he will focus on one or the other (or neither). Last year for example, he said no great deal emerged to help the 2010 club, so he made a deal to bring in Jarrod Saltalamacchia to have an impact in the longer-term. His responsibility is to look both in the near future and in the long-term, a tough job to say the least.
This year, he is most certainly be looking 1st at the club’s potential to make waves in the post-season and if the deal is there, he will want to add some pitching depth and perhaps another outfielder. The Carlos Beltran chatter has been loud, but if the Red Sox are going to go after an outfielder, Beltran seems unlikely. Why not look at Hunter Pence in Houston? He is signed for 2 more years, where Beltran is more of a loaner. The price tag will be high for Beltran and Pence, but their future is very different. If there is one thing Theo avoids, it is a player he has to trade top prospects for without at least another year on their contract, making a Beltran move even more unlikely. If Theo really feels he doesn’t have enough depth in the outfield with the emergence of Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish waiting for an opportunity in Pawtucket, then he will look for a longer-term solution, not a patch.
The other piece of the rumor mill is pitching depth. This has to be Theo’s focus and he knows that. On WEEI yesterday he alluded to the fact that you never feel you have enough pitching as a GM. One star pitcher goes down and their needs to be options waiting to fill that spot. With the injuries to Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and John Lackey’s inability to pitch effectively, Theo will be looking to add another arm or two for the stretch run. According to Alex Speier of WEEI, the Red Sox have inquired about several arms (Ubaldo Jimenez, Felix Hernandez, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly, Jeremy Guthrie, and Mike Adams), but many of those names are either untouchable, or will take a big prospect hall to bring to Boston. Mike Adams is off the market and Felix Hernandez is not likely to be moved, so the list immediately shrinks. Ubaldo Jimenez would be a nice fit in Boston, but will require a significant deal.
As I mentioned on twitter yesterday, I see the Houston Astros as a nice trade partner for the Red Sox. They have Hunter Pence and Wandy Rodriguez, both players that could help the Red Sox. Many are worried about Rodriguez coming from the NL to the AL, but he could certainly provide some starting depth and honestly, he can’t be worse than Lackey. All that concern about a league-switch could help the Red Sox get a better, cheaper deal. Pence, as we all know, is an extremely talented young player and could bump J.D. Drew in right field, but it creates a road block for younger prospects like Reddick, Kalish, Daniel Nava, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Juan Carlos Linares. Also, his price tag will be steep. It is a decision Theo needs to make, and given Reddick’s impressive season, it will be a difficult one.
This time of year, rumors are floating around everywhere. They will continue to swirl up until July 31st and beyond (waiver trades). Stick with BoSoxInjection.com for all your latest news and rumors through this busy baseball season.
For all the latest news and analysis from BoSox Injection, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or with our RSS feed.