The Boston Red Sox will be wavering on sell or not to sell as the season goes deeper. The team is competitive; the playoffs are possible, so Chaim Bloom and management walk the tightrope. Is selling viewed as a toss in the towel in 2023? Is a partial selloff possible?
Fans put on the GM hat or whatever that title has now migrated into the corporate structure. If the Red Sox do sell, there will be a market, and that market will exist if they buy. In 2022 the Red Sox were relatively passive, considering the team's status. The most valuable chips remained tethered except for catcher Christian Vazquez. So I will contemplate the selling approach and just who gets jettisoned. Who is expendable?
There are untouchables, and that is pitching or exclusively young pitching. Brayan Bello, Tanner Houck, Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, John Schreiber, and Garrett Whitlock would take a blow away offer. But the rest? Sarcastically some would dump them all, but who has value in return? Here is my shortlist.
James Paxton is back in form (2-1, 3.81) and is genetically blessed being a lefty. Paxton's heater is near an all-time high (95.9), and the remaining metrics are positive. With arms across both leagues falling apart, Texas Rangers give us a call and a list of prospects to negotiate.
Chris Sale would be ideal, and for me, dealing with Sale ASAP would have been an appropriate option -- an option I covered a short time ago. That option is now gone.
Kenley Jansen has done the job as closer for the Red Sox. The righty has a long and successful track record and is signed through 2024. With bullpen-centric mindsets, Jansen could be a strategic trade chip. The Rays have been humbled with their usual lights-out bullpen and are now ranked 29th in MLB. Trade within the division with the payroll-shy Rays? Jansen is a relatively big-ticket item for the Rays.
The Mets are fast becoming a monetary disaster. The closer is a long-time personal favorite, David Robertson, who can close, set up, go long relief and clean out lockers. Will the Mets pack it in? If not, Jansen would be a plus addition.
Chris Martin is signed for two seasons and has done as expected—a solid option in the bullpen who can close if needed. Bullpen depth is a necessity, as the Red Sox can attest, and Martin could be shopped for the usual prospect returns.
The rest of the pitching is nondescript, with the two headliners being bitter disappointments - Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta. Any return would be a low-level prospect of roster filler value in the dredges of the team's system.
A "fire sale" could be a positive part of a Red Sox rebuild
Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec have yet to produce as expected. Dalbec has already been shopped, and Casas could also be available. I would be hesitant about Casas who does show small glimpses of turning it around. This is fast becoming a Michael Chavis situation with both and could be a swap of one system's disappointment for another's disappointment.
The real value is on the rest of the roster, starting with Alex Verdugo. Verdugo is having a solid season and has gotten All-Star mentions. Verdugo is controllable through 2025, and what you see is what you get - a competent hitter, a good but not great defensive player, and best described as a good - not great - player.
Jarren Duran has matured as a defensive and offensive player. Duran is not Jacoby Ellsbury or Gary Sizemore but has the potential to be an everyday player in the right situation. I would be more hesitant to deal Duran than Verdugo.
Christian Arroyo, Enrique Hernández, Reese McGuire, and Adam Duvall have values only in the right situation. The reality is all or none could return in 2024. Justin Turner would have more return value than any of the four mentioned, but at his age (38) it would take just the right spot.
What if the Red Sox are buyers?
The Red Sox's needs are evident with pitching, defense, and a solid bat with the skills or close to the skills of Masataka Yoshida. Players will become available as fire sales and contract dumpings take place, and that is where Bloom's evaluation team can either die on the vine or spark the franchise up a notch.
The Red Sox lost out in 2022 by a hold strategy with Nathan Eovaldi and Xander Bogaerts, and they would likely do the same in 2023. The difference is now value which is less other than trading Bello or Marcelo Mayer.