It appeared relatively likely that the Red Sox would trade Yoenis Cespedes since the start of this offseason due to Boston’s glut of outfielders. After adding Hanley Ramirez (now a left fielder) and Pablo Sandoval to the fold, however, it seems certain that Cespedes will be on the move sooner rather than later as the Red Sox seek pitching help through the trade market. Cespedes figures to be a popular name in trade rumors in the upcoming weeks and two teams– the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres– have already expressed interest in the flamboyant left fielder.
The Red Sox initially acquired Cespedes at the Trade Deadline to provide offensive production in what was a depleted outfield at the time. After the acquisitions of Rusney Castillo and Hanley Ramirez, plus the emergence of rookie sensation Mookie Betts, there is simply no room for Cespedes to play in front of the Green Monster.
Despite only ranking as the fourth best player in the Red Sox outfield options, though, there’s a chance that Cespedes could bring back a significant return in a trade. Last season’s .260/.301/.450 slash line isn’t phenomenal by any means, but it makes him an above-average bat even at an offense-rich position and his ample right-handed power could be particularly intriguing to certain power-starved teams such as the Padres and Mariners. Plus, the team that acquires Cespedes would only be on the hook for one year and $9M before he hits free agency.
A Cespedes trade would make a good deal of sense with both teams as both San Diego and Seattle are seeking outfield help but have plenty of pitching depth, a major need for the Red Sox.
With the Padres, the Red Sox would have three potential targets. Boston could either seek a one-for-one swap of one-year rentals with Cespedes and Ian Kennedy, who went 13-13 with a 3.63 ERA in his best season since he was fourth place in Cy Young voting in his outlying 2011 season, or create a larger package of prospects and pursue young guns Tyson Ross (13-14, 2.81 ERA in a breakout 2014 season) and Andrew Cashner (who battled through injuries to go 5-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 19 starts), a trade my colleague Ryan Hathaway and I conducted in our run as co-GM’s in the Faux Winter Meetings.
With the Mariners, the Red Sox would have the option of acquiring Hisashi Iwakuma (15-9, 3.52 ERA in 2014), who has established himself as one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball over the last three years and is a free agent after 2015, or one of Seattle’s promising duo of James Paxton (6-4, 3.04 ERA in 13 starts) and Taijuan Walker (2-3, 2.61 in 8 games and 5 starts).
Any of those options could become a legitimate one for the Red Sox as they could easily acquire Kennedy or Iwakuma as a rental to slot in as their #2 starter with a package of Cespedes and maybe a mid-level prospect. If the Red Sox are aiming higher, they could create a larger package for one of the Mariners’ promising youngsters or Padres’ breakout stars. Cespedes is proving to be a great trade chip for the Red Sox and it appears that they could garner a significant return by trading him.