The Boston Red Sox needs relief pitching and a right-handed bat. Both Josh Donaldson and Zach Britton’s value has decreased. Maybe this is the time to strike?
The trade winds are a nautical term of significance, but this is baseball and a different meaning is attached to trade winds. What is blowing in the wind is rumors and some are realistic and others are not. To paraphrase a quote from a now defamed basketball coach: “Manny Machado is not walking through that Red Sox clubhouse door.”
Just what is needed? The Red Sox have the best record in baseball or the second best based on how you decide such a statistic. What it really is in a baseball nutshell is this version is a damn good baseball team. The needs are clear to even the casual Red Sox fan – pitching and a right-handed bat.
Pitching – most notably the bullpen variety – becomes a perpetual yearly need throughout baseball. In the free agent, market relievers became wealthy over the confluence of need and a shortage of quality. The Red Sox can now officially put to rest any sudden input from Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg. My doubts are that neither will ever pitch again for the organization.
So where do you find pitching? The often mentioned target is Zach Britton of the Orioles who are in the process of cleaning out the roster while searching for prospects. Britton would most certainly be my prime target and when Dave Dombrowski calls for my advice I will state such. How do you get a Britton?
My first concern is getting a healthy Britton who has had more breakdowns than a rusted out Ford Pinto. I think Boston has already experienced caveat emptor in excess with recent bullpen deals, but why shy away now? Britton is a lefty – a big plus – and knows the American League East. As far as compensation the Red Sox do have a few prospects left such as Sam Travis. They also have Blake Swihart and Brian Johnson collecting cobwebs on the roster.
The Red Sox will be in dealing competition with others so developing a package for Britton or even righty Brad Brach may not match up with trading competitors of O’s needs. That said there is a reality with Britton – he is not cheap ($12 MM), has pitched just 6.2 innings, may be a health risk, is a potential free agent, and can’t find the plate (8.1 BB/9). I doubt that less than impressive situation would encourage the Red Sox to overpay or the O’s to over ask.
Then there is the issue of a right-handed bat – preferably one with clout – maybe a Hanley Ramirez type? That is not a cheap shot as HanRam really had to go especially with “other” issues swirling about. And the Jose Abreu boat left the dock back in December.
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The Red Sox are just 10th in the AL in OPS against lefties which is why you see teams risking nonentities against them. The missing ingredient to boost this is no-show, Dustin Pedroia. The loss of Pedroia cannot be minimized. Defensively Pedroia is sorely missed. Then comes the offense and Pedroia is a lifetime .307 hitter against lefties. The cure may not be in a trade but in Pedroia’s aching knee.
Pedroia aside, just where do you get a right-handed bat with power? Amazon? eBay? Toronto? My goodness, that means former MVP Josh Donaldson who is currently enjoying a respite on the disabled list – an all too frequent Donaldson occurrence the last few years.
Donaldson serves a dual function of providing defensive stability at third base and a power bat in the lineup. Donaldson is a .287 hitter lifetime against southpaws and a .302 hitter at Fenway Park. If the Red Sox acquire Donaldson they also acquire the balance of a $23 MM contract. That would most certainly mitigate any substantial shipping of bodies to Blue Jay Way.
So – to simplify – the two most appealing prospects are within the division with two teams that are out of contention. Both players have injury issues, performance issues, and contracts that would be embraced as the GNP of many countries. That should certainly lower the price.
The Red Sox are limited to just what to offer. Forget any starting nine with the possible exception of our good field and no hit center fielder. The rest is roster fodder previously mentioned either with the “Big Club” or buried on the 40-man roster. Do not expect a Jalen Beeks or even a Bobby Poyner to head north or south.
For both Donaldson and Britton, being in Boston is an opportunity to establish the value that has decreased substantially for both. For Boston, it is the assumption of payroll and for the O’s and Jays getting something of value in payroll relief and talent for two players whose value has plummeted.