Alejandro De Aza is proving to be one of the best bargain acquisitions in all of baseball this season. Designated for assignment by the Orioles just over a month ago, the Red Sox continued their revolving door at fifth outfielder by trading unheralded minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel to Baltimore in exchange for De Aza on June 1st. That trade has paid huge dividends for the Red Sox as De Aza has been on a roll at the plate for the Red Sox and, in a season where the Red Sox are unlikely to contend, it’s worth wondering whether he could garner an intriguing return at the trade deadline.
In 19 games with the Red Sox this month, De Aza has ridden a hot streak to an impressive .288/.323/.576 slash line. The power that he has shown is unprecedented as De Aza has only once hit double-digit home runs in a season, but even without his three home runs, he has been an extremely useful player for the Red Sox.
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Still, the Red Sox are stuffed to the gills with outfielders even with Hanley Ramirez (if you consider him an outfielder) looking at a potential trip to the disabled list. Rusney Castillo will almost definitely play a larger role in Boston’s future than De Aza and, despite his struggles this season (Castillo has slashed .230/.260/.284 in 77 plate appearances), he carries a much higher price tag as well as huge upside.
In fact, this Ramirez injury is an opportunity for the Red Sox to potentially play with their outfield of the future featuring Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. However, De Aza has been taking playing time away from Castillo, who is now back in Pawtucket after receiving inconsistent time in Boston, and despite De Aza’s excellent performance, the Red Sox should be playing for the future.
The Red Sox probably would not receive a huge return for De Aza, but a team in need of an outfielder could give the Red Sox a useful prospect. Really any future major leaguer, even a bench player, would be a strong return for De Aza, whom the Red Sox acquired for virtually nothing. As a 31-year old journeyman outfielder, De Aza should not be receiving everyday playing time in a season where the Red Sox reside in last place unless Boston is able to go on a scorching hot streak to enter contention once again. The Red Sox have already played the baseball stock market by buying low on De Aza, now it’s time to sell high.