Red Sox assets that should be off limits in trade talks
By Sean Penney
These players are out of minor league options, which means the Red Sox have to put them on the Opening Day roster to avoid potentially losing them. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear role available for them, which could make them expendable even if they would prefer to keep them.
Brian Johnson has been successful at the Triple-A level. While that hasn’t translated to the majors yet, he has shown flashes of potential. His complete game, five-hit shutout against the Seattle Mariners in May was a glimpse of what the lefty is capable of. Boston’s rotation doesn’t have a current opening, so they plan on transitioning Johnson to the bullpen in order to find room for him on the roster.
His potential is higher than that of a middle reliever, which would make Johnson more valuable to a team that can put him in the rotation. He would be a useful left-handed reliever for Boston who could provide occasional spot starts but his upside is wasted in that role. If he could be used as a trade chip to help improve other areas of the roster then it could benefit both Johnson and the Red Sox.
Blake Swihart is a former top prospect who has yet to solidify a role. The Red Sox haven’t completely given up on him as a catcher but haven’t shown enough confidence in his defensive skills to rely on him as the backup to Christian Vazquez. He’s versatile enough to play other positions, so the Red Sox could use him in a utility role, but it’s hard to see how Boston can offer him steady playing time.
His bat still has a high ceiling so if another team believes he can stick at catcher then he has more value to them than he does to the Red Sox. If Swihart is going to reach his potential it may need to be with another organization.
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Boston won’t simply give either of these players away but if they had to deal one of their best available assets then they should push to include Johnson or Swihart ahead of any of the afforementioned prospects.