Red Sox could net large return by trading relievers


Jul 15, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; American League pitcher Koji Uehara (19) of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch in the 6th inning during the 2014 MLB All Star Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

While Tuesday’s trade that sent Chase Headley to the Yankees in exchange for a Quad-A player and middling prospect indicated a weak return from trading complimentary players, last night’s deal of Joakim Soria indicates something entirely different regarding Boston’s potentially trade-able pieces.

Last night, the Texas Rangers sent unflappable closer Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, a pair of pitching prospects who both ranked as a top ten prospect in Detroit’s farm system. Soria is having an excellent season (2.70 ERA, 1.07 FIP, 10.50 K/BB in 33.1 innings pitched) and the Tigers are particularly desperate for bullpen help, but it’s reasonable to think that the Red Sox could acquire a prospect return nearly that large by trading Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara, or both.

Soria is obviously having a fantastic season to date, but Miller (2.31 ERA, 1.73 FIP, 5.25 K/BB) and Uehara (1.58 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 9.83 K/BB) have both been nearly as good. The Soria trade proves that elite relief pitchers are a hot commodity and with the Red Sox highly unlikely to make the playoffs in 2014, they must at least consider dealing both pitchers if the trade offers become attractive enough.

Even with Detroit off the market for a closer, they have the fifth worst bullpen ERA in baseball and could still be looking for a top-notch setup man like Miller. And if they are interested in acquiring more relievers, other interested teams could include Toronto, Oakland, and San Francisco, plus Atlanta has reportedly expressed interest in Miller.

However, trading Miller and/or Uehara isn’t as simple as the Boston’s status in 2014.

The Red Sox are in the unique position of being out of contention this season but having a solid chance to be right back in the mix by next year. Their chances next season could be significantly diminished, however, if they trade one of their elite relief pitchers. They could acquire elite young talent which could help the team in the future, but it may not be worth it if it diminishes their chances of contending in 2015.

Thus, the Red Sox will be looking for the perfect balance of current level and future potential when considering trades for Uehara and Miller in the upcoming week. Ideally, they would be able to acquire a nearly MLB-ready prospect, but in a system of solid but unspectacular names, a real high-ceiling prospect may get the job done as well. However, if the Red Sox are unable to acquire a large enough haul then it simply makes sense to hold onto Uehara and Miller and attempt to re-sign both this offseason.