The Cole Hamels rumors just never seem to die. Throughout the offseason, we all heard this and that about how the Red Sox need an ace to succeed. The early struggles of the rotation have done nothing to dispel those rumors (though, at this time, the rotation doesn’t need an ace so much as for the rotation to perform as they were initially advertised), and there have been some new wrinkles in recent days.
Earlier this week, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. suggested that the Phillies would be willing to eat some salary if the Phillies trade Hamels. That doesn’t affect the Red Sox so much, as Boston has been burning money over the past year, but what does affect the Red Sox is that a Phillies scout was recently spotted at a High-A Salem Red Sox game.
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With very little prospect depth on the Salem roster, it’s fairly clear that this scout was watching outfield prospect Manuel Margot. Now, this has the potential to be a huge shift in negotiations with the Phillies. Throughout the offseason, the rumors indicated that the Phillies were looking at Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts or bust in a Hamels trade and this news suggests that Philadelphia may have moved on.
The Red Sox have made it clear that they will not move Swihart or Betts, but Margot may be a different story. He’s an immensely talented young player, don’t get me wrong. Margot likely sports the best raw speed of any Red Sox prospect and has shown the ability to reach base consistently with some surprising power. In 115 games between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem last season, Margot slashed .293/.356/.462 with 42 stolen bases and 12 home runs. And he has continued his strong performance at Salem this year, hitting .324/.377/.515 with 9 steals through just 18 games.
Best of all? Margot is still just 20 years old. Such a young, talented player who might see the major leagues by the end of the 2016 season is an immensely valuable commodity. However, even if Margot reaches his ceiling of a top-notch leadoff hitter and center fielder, he’ll be blocked in the Red Sox organization. The Red Sox have already committed to two center fielders in Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo going forward, leaving little space for Margot to slot into a crowded Red Sox outfield.
That’s why the Red Sox may receive their best value by trading Margot. The Red Sox need starting pitching more than a center fielder for both the present and future, whether that starter be Cole Hamels or another quality pitcher. Margot is likely the best prospect that the Red Sox should be willing to trade away, as the incredibly gifted center field simply doesn’t have a place in the Red Sox organization. It’s tough to part with prospects, especially the elite ones, but it could be good news in this scenario.