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Red Sox Trade Deadline Thoughts

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Cliff Lee on the Trade Market

Philadelphia is listening to trade offers for lefty starter Cliff Lee.

Figure the Red Sox to be kicking the tires on this one.

Lee is a difference maker who can alter the race.

His salary ($25 million a year) probably limits his market to the Sox, Dodgers and maybe the Yankees (they have the money but may not have the commitment to this season).

Texas would have been on the list – but guessing the Matt Garza trade probably knocks them off the list.

Package Deals

Reading who is on the trade market – a few teams have starter/reliever combinations that could appeal to the Red Sox. Examples are:

The White Sox with Jake Peavy and Addison Reed. And Kansas City with Ervin Santana and Luke Hochevar.

The price-tag would be steep for either combination but a package could make deals more appealing to Boston.

For instance, Reed would bring a young arm with the 32 year old Peavy, which may ease Boston including someone like 3B Will Middlebrooks in a deal.

And Hochevar would add a player who doesn’t hit free agency until 2015 in a package with free agent to be Santana – giving Boston a return that extends beyond this season.

Looking for Relief

Interesting the Red Sox weren’t mentioned as a team checking Brian Wilson on the comeback trail.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he is not being evaluated by Boston. Wilson’s value includes post-season experience and he requires no compensation, as a free agent.

Keep Best Young Arms

The big performance by Chris Archer of the Rays today versus the Yankees today provides a good reminder to Red Sox brass: Keep your top pitching prospects.

Archer went to the Rays (a team that knows pitching) in the Matt Garza trade in January 2011.

Right now would rather have Archer than Garza – without even taking into consideration the salary difference or Archer is a free agent in 2019 and Garza is after this season.

Add in – would rather have Archer than the prospect package the Cubs received for Garza. They all are a roll of the dice.

Which pitchers do you think the Red Sox should make their priorities?

Red Sox Prospect Update

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Prospect Options for Red Sox Holes

One of the great benefits of building a strong farm system is creating organizational depth that is available to address issues that pop up during the season.

John Tomase walked through the top ten options of Sox prospects who could play a role down the stretch run.

Of course, SS Xander Bogaerts leads the way and Brandon Workman is in the second spot – with Workman potentially playing role as a starter or in the bullpen.

Two sleepers: Drake Britton who could get the chance to fill Andrew Miller’s shoes as a lefty in the bullpen (even with Matt Thornton here). And Will Middlebrooks as a bounce-back player – the Sox need more right-handed pop.

Bogaerts Kudos

Keith Law placed Bogaerts at #3 on the mid-season update to his top 50 baseball prospect list (subscription required).

3B Garin Cecchini continued his meteoric rise up prospect lists coming in at #21. Law wrote Cecchini has one plus tool – “he can hit.”

Also on the list: OF Jackie Bradley Jr. at #24 and LHP Henry Owens #31. Blake Swihart made honorable mention.

Not a bad turnout for the Boston organization and note: Baltimore placed three players on the list. While New York, Toronto and Tampa Bay each landed one.

One that Got Away

Here’s one for all the prospect hoarders this trade deadline. Oakland pitching prospect Raul Alcantara was recently named California League pitcher of the week by MiLB.com. Alcantara, sent over to the Athletics in the Andrew Bailey deal, is 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA this season.

Red Sox Trade Deadline Approach

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Like Sean McAdam’s piece on the Red Sox “philosophy” as they approach the trade deadline.

It is: Yes, look to address team holes for a playoff run this year – but so in a way that does not “sacrifice the inventory of accumulated prospects for short-term gain.”

One of Red Sox GM Ben Cherington’s most important jobs is evaluating his own organization’s talent.

Prospects are typically prime currency in mid-season deals.

Cherington needs to assess who are the keepers in the Red Sox system (the untouchables – and the hard deal unless the return is big) and who is expendable.

And he also needs to be checking in with his fellow GMs about their assessments of Red Sox prospects – with an eye towards identifying which expendable prospects may be more highly valued by potential trading partners.

Dialing up Bullpen Help

The priority of picking up a reliever before the trade deadline may have moved up a couple of notches with the shoulder injury to Andrew Bailey, who may be out for the rest of the season. The Bailey injury adds to Boston’s bullpen woes – with Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller already out for the rest of the season.

The Sox added to their organizational depth, signing to Pawtucket veteran relievers Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon, neither of whom should be counted on for more than emergency help unless they are struck by a lightning bolt of Bartolo Colon-like rejuvenation.

Still think Boston may be looking at their young arms as primary reliever options.

Looking forward to seeing LHP Drake Britton get into some more big league games.

Brandon Workman could slide into a bullpen role if Clay Buchholz comes back or the Sox add a starter in a deal. And Alex Wilson should go back into the back-end of the pen when he comes off the DL.

The guy I am wondering about is Rubby De La Rosa.

He would seem like a natural for moving into relief for the rest of the season – but his last three games for Pawtucket have been disasters.

Shoring up Starting

Put me down as someone who is not big on Bud Norris as a Red Sox rotation addition.

I get Norris’ theoretical value – maintaining player control beyond this season and that he has a reasonable salary cost.

The starting point in any player addition should be talent. And Norris is not a difference-maker pitcher.

Not to mention – he probably has never pitched in a game that has mattered in the major leagues.

Rental players – like Matt Garza or Ervin Santana – are potentially better acquisitions if the team can get them for “rental prices.” And note: the actual cost may be more than what it takes to get Norris – because they are better than Norris.

Yes on Pedroia Deal

Word is the Red Sox are closing in a massive contract extension with Dustin Pedroia.

He is Boston’s cornerstone player so being sure he stays in Boston makes sense.

Checking Out Red Sox Trade Rumblings

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Here’s a quick run-through on Red Sox trade rumors and suggestions making the rounds.

On Guard for Garza

Jon Heyman places the Red Sox as a “major threat” to land Cubs starter Matt Garza. Heyman cites Boston’s pitching prospect depth as a key trade asset. Jim Bowden puts the Red Sox on the short list of teams interested in Garza along with the Rangers and Diamondbacks (subscription required). Boston has the farm system to compete with Texas and Arizona. Like Garza as a rental – understanding they would be high-rent prices – not as a long-term option (don’t want to make a long-term commitment given his recent injury history).

Getting Jesse Crain

Dave Cameron lists Jesse Crain as a guy to get to bolster the Red Sox bullpen, writing Boston should send SS prospect Deven Marrero to the White Sox in return (subscription required). Okay with this deal with one big condition – Boston needs to get some demonstration that Crain is healthy. If no, no go. And by the way, Crain says going to the first place Red Sox would be fun.

Red Sox Prospects that Could Go

SoxProspects reviewed Boston’s farm system and tiered out the team’s minor leaguers that could be available in deals. Look for the “Solid B prospects” to be the ones most likely to go. A list that includes Marrero,  C Blake Swihart, OF Bryce Brentz, RHP Brandon Workman (got to think he bolstered his trade value in Oakland), LHP Drake Britton and more. Baseball America provided a mid-year update to its top 50 prospects list, with the untouchable SS Xander Bogaerts placing at #4. Three others made the list: Jackie Bradley Jr., Anthony Ranaudo and Garin Cecchini (I could see the last two move in a really big deal – think Cliff Lee-type trade).

What moves do you think the Red Sox will make before the trade deadline? Which prospects will be most likely to go?

Five Trading Deadline Considerations for Red Sox

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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington kicked off his trading deadline push to improve the team with this week’s acquisition of lefty reliever Matt Thornton from the White Sox.

Don’t expect Cherington to stop there.

With the team in first place in the AL East – and the playoff rules that make a wild card position a one game roll of the dice – look for Cherington to bolster the team with an eye to winning the division.

Here are five considerations for the Red Sox as they evaluate trade options.

The Bullpen

Even with the Thornton deal, the bullpen looks like it needs to be Boston’s top priority.

Koji Uehara is holding his own as closer. Andrew Bailey has been better – but it’s tough to count on him, given his injury history and inconsistency.

And something’s up (not so good) with Junichi Tazawa lately – his performance has dropped off.

Thornton and Craig Breslow are situational lefties – and not much more.

The decision points are:

  • Does the Red Sox brass think the team can get help from within – from an Alex Wilson and/or Franklin Morales returning from the DL and from Pawtucket like Brandon Workman and/or Drake Britton? If the answer is yes, this is the way to go.
  • What are the trade price-tags for bullpen help? Expect a competitive trade market for quality relievers. Look for Boston to follow the Thornton approach – where they targeted a high-priced reliever on a non-competitive team which is looking to dump the contract. The Red Sox absorb the contract with a lower price in prospects.

Starting Rotation

The Red Sox will know better where they stand if and when Clay Buchholz returns to the rotation.

With a healthy Buchholz, the rotation is in pretty good shape – with John Lackey – not Jon Lester – leading the rotation.

That said, if a difference-maker starter like Cliff Lee is on the market – expect Boston to be in the hunt.

Part of it would be an offensive ploy (to make the team better) and another part would be defensive (prevent the competition from getting him – or at least, drive up the price).

Third Base

Jose Iglesias should slip back over to third base when Stephen Drew returns soon from the disabled list.

But Drew’s offensive woes and injury history make it prudent to be prepared for something to happen – creating the need for Iglesias to play shortstop.

As with the bullpen, the first place to look is Pawtucket.

Is Will Middlebrooks turning it around? Do the Sox think Xander Bogaerts can be this year’s Manny Machado?

If the answers are no – the Red Sox may check out what the trade market offers, like Philadelphia’s Michael Young if the Phillies decide to be sellers.

Righty Hitter in the Outfield

The Red Sox are generating plenty of offense this season.

They lead the major leagues in runs scored.

But if we were to get picky – they could use another right-handed hitter in the outfield.

Pitching is a bigger priority but if someone like the high-priced Hunter Pence hits the market, Boston should explore a deal.

Red Sox Prospects

The Red Sox have some untouchable prospects like Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

But this is precisely the type of situation where Boston’s farm system investment can pay off.

They have a deep minor league system that is on the rise and can afford to move some young talent to help the big league roster.

Knowing who to keep and who the organization can afford to trade will be a big test for the front office.

What do you think the Red Sox should do at the trading deadline?

Xander Bogaerts in Futures Game Showcase

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Is Xander Bogaerts the Manny Machado of 2013?

We will get another data point in this weekend’s All-Star Futures Game.

Bogaerts is batting #3 in the World team line-up.

Bogaerts has boosted his already very high stock this season – quickly moving through Double A Portland up to Triple A Pawtucket at age 20.

He has been picking up production with the PawSox, batting .286 with 3 HRs and 8 RBIs in his last ten games. Bogaerts has 7 HRs in 29 Pawtucket games – compared 6 HRs in 56 games with Portland.

Jim Callis has Bogaerts ranked #6 among the prospects on this week’s list to have Fantasy Baseball impact this season (subscription required).

What to watch for next: if Bogaerts plays games at third base (moving Will Middlebrooks to first base or DH), start the countdown: Bogaerts is getting ready to hit Fenway this season.

With Jose Iglesias performing well (and veteran Stephen Drew also on the team) – third base is Bogaerts’ path to Boston in 2013.

One More Futures Note

Reymond Fuentes is leading off for the World team.

The Red Sox shipped Fuentes to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Fuentes has rebounded well from a down 2012 season.

Like to see former Red Sox prospects do well – it’s good for the business of trading prospects in future deals.

Written by Albie Jarvis

July 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Red Sox Bolster Bullpen with Matt Thornton

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The Red Sox made a good deal getting lefty reliever Matt Thornton from the White Sox for toolsy OF prospect Brandon Jacobs.

Boston hopes Thornton can fill the shoes of lost-for-season reliever Andrew Miller – something Thornton can probably only partly accomplish.

Don’t expect Boston to stop here in the trade market.

This deal is a good indicator on how GM Ben Cherington will try to go to market again.

Use Boston’s financial strength to pick up a contract a team is looking to shed. For example, Thornton has $3.5 million left on his 2013 contract.

And the other part of the trade strategy: send one or more surplus prospects to close the deal.

That’s a good formula – and look for the Sox to repeat it.

Thornton’s Role

Looking at the numbers, Thornton is no Miller – but he could help. Relievers can get hot – and the Sox are looking for Thornton to put it together for two-and-half months with the adrenaline of a pennant race.

Thornton still throws heat (although a little less than before). He dominates lefty batters – but righties have knocked him around.

Manager John Farrell said he plans to use Thornton mostly in sixth- and seventh-inning situations – similar to his role with the White Sox.

And Chicago players sent their well wishes to the veteran Thornton.

What Boston Gave up in Jacobs

Jacobs was ranked the 11th prospect in the Red Sox organization.

He was hitting .247 with 11 home runs, 44 RBIs, 46 runs scored and 10 stolen bases over 84 games between Class A Salem (81 games) and Double-A Portland (three games).

Jacobs hit over .400 in his final 11 games at Salem before his promotion to Portland (a little showcasing to boost his trade value for Boston).

Alex Speier positioned Jacobs this way – he has all the talent in the world (outshining even Jackie Bradley Jr.) but that talent has not translated into consistent production on the field.

Jacobs is a good grab for the ChiSox – they wanted to dump Thornton’s contract and also got a prospect with upside.

What do you think the Red Sox will do next in the trade market?

Written by Albie Jarvis

July 13, 2013 at 8:37 pm

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