Keep Him or Deal Him - Red Sox MLB Trade Deadline


The Major League Baseball August 31st trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and with the Red Sox sit at 10-21 in last place, nine games out of first place in the American League East going into play this weekend.  Even the possibility of grabbing one of the additional playoff spots created for the abbreviated season appears to be a pipe dream at this point, as remarkably the Sox are even further behind in the Wild Card race, ten full games off the pace.  It’s always possible the team could get white hot over the next few weeks and assert themselves back into the race, but given the state of the pitching staff, the odds of that happening are about as steep as hitting the lottery. 

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If the Red Sox are going to be active at the trade deadline, it will almost assuredly be as sellers.  The team has already dealt away two of its more marketable pitchers in free agent to be closer Brandon Workman and reliever Heath Hembree, dealt earlier this month to the Phillies for pitching prospects.  With a glaring lack of depth in minor league talent, this lost season is the perfect opportunity for Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom to deal away some proven major league talent to help restock the farm system seriously depleted by years of Dave Dombowski deals (which did net a World Series Championship in 2018).

Whether you call it rebuilding or retooling, the 2021 Red Sox will look vastly different from the team put on the field over the last few years.  That process has already begun with the trade of Workman and Hembree, and will continue at the trade deadline and the offseason.  The Sox do have several veteran, playoff-tested players that could be very valuable to a playoff contender looking to improve at the deadline.  Who should they keep, and who should be on the trade block?  Let’s look at the candidates.

UNTOUCHABLES -  Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, Darwinzon Hernandez

There is a major caveat that comes with the untouchable label.  If another team blows you away with an offer for a young, proven talent that’s better than what you’re giving up, and if it makes you better, you make the deal.  For example, if the Indians were to offer you Shane Bieber for Verdugo straight-up you make that deal six days a week and twice on Sunday.  But why would the Indians do that?  They wouldn’t, but that type of deal is the only way you consider trading either Bogaerts, Devers or Verdugo.

Bogaerts has established himself as one of the top shortstops in the MLB.  He hits for power and after signing a team friendly contract last season (one of Dombrowski’s best deals) he has elevated his game to another level, become a team leader, and shown he wants to play in Boston.  He doesn’t have a lot of range at short, but he makes the plays on the balls he can get to.  Remember the annual parade of new shortstops that came through Boston after Nomar was traded?  That’s why you hold on to Bogaerts.
Devers is still only 23 years old and under team control for three more seasons.  He occasionally gets himself out by chasing pitches out of the zone, but when he’s on he hits missiles all over the field on any pitch.  He can be an adventure at third base at times due to lapses in focus, but his value is his bat, and a switch to a first base/DH role is a definite possibility in the future.

The emergence of Verdugo has been one of the only bright spots in a dismal 2020 Red Sox season.  The pressure was on him as the only major league ready player acquired in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade to the Dodgers.  He has played with a passion and enthusiasm that has been a stark contrast to some of his teammates who appear to be sleepwalking through the season.  He is an aggressive base runner who sometimes crosses the line into recklessness, but that will improve with experience.  It’s doubtful the Sox deal him so soon after acquiring him for Betts, so all those factors make him a keeper.
Hernandez has only recently come up to the majors after being sidelined with the coronavirus.  He is a power lefty with tremendous upside.  It is not yet known if he will be a top of the rotation starter or a back end of the bullpen reliever, but for a team that hasn’t developed a starting pitcher since Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox shouldn’t give up on Hernandez unless the deal is one they can’t refuse.
DRIVE A HARD BARGAIN – J.D. Martinez, Christian Vazquez
We all know the deal with J.D. Martinez.  He can opt out after this season AND next season if he chooses to exercise the option in his contract.  He is having a down year this year, but there is no doubt he is one of the best right-handed hitters in the game today.  With the DH being used in the National League this season Bloom now have twice as many potential trade partners to deal Martinez to boost a playoff contender’s offense for the stretch run and beyond.  But the Red Sox shouldn’t sell low just for the sake of unloading Martinez.  They should get a decent return package of near ready prospects in return.
Vazquez is another player I would not mind dealing, assuming you can acquire a decent catching asset in return.  Coming up through the Sox system he was rated as the next Pudge Rodriguez defensively, but he was not expected to hit at the major league level.  He has surprised everyone with his bat, but his defense has been a disappointment, in my humble opinion.  His arm is strong but erratic, and he is not a good receiver or adept at blocking pitches.  He has a habit of getting lazy behind the plate and letting balls get by him to the backstop in critical situation.  His value will never be higher, so if the Sox can get an adequate catcher in return plus pitching prospects, Bloom should make the deal.  The Padres are loaded with minor league talent and need a major league catcher.  Throw in Don Orsillo in the package and I make that deal.
MAKE ME AN OFFER – Mitch Moreland, Nathan Eovaldi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, Ryan Brasier, Matthew Barnes
Moreland has quietly been one of the Red Sox top offensive players at the start of this season, and last season for that matter.  He is a professional hitter, clubhouse leader, and plays a gold glove caliber first base.  He also has an extremely team friendly deal at a prorated $3 M annual salary.  At his age he’s not going to net you a ton of high level prospects, but he could be an asset to a contender as a left-handed bat off the bench or a late inning defensive replacement at first.
Eovaldi will forever be known for his performance in Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, a game in which he was the losing pitcher.  He will also forever be known as a guy who just can’t stay healthy for an entire season.  He has lights out stuff which for some reason does not translate to strikeouts, even this era of swinging for the fences on every pitch.  His contract isn’t ridiculous when you consider he was signed to be a number four or five starter, but he is now the de facto ace of the team.  He is a proven playoff contender and could be of value as a back end of the rotation depth piece for a contender.  The Sox should consider dealing him only if you they don’t have to eat too much of his contract to make the deal.
I am on record as loving Jackie Bradley for his glove and his glove alone.  Bradley routinely turns extra base hits into outs, something that the Red Sox need now, more than ever, with the current state of their pitching.  He can also get red hot with the bat for a few weeks, which he has shown some reasons signs of doing over the past week.  He will be a free agent at the end of the season, which will limit the return the Red Sox will get for him, but any asset they can acquire and control will be useful for a player that will likely be leaving anyway at the end of the season.
Pillar is a lot like Moreland with respect to his bat, defense, and professionalism.  He doesn’t fit into the Red Sox long term plans, but he could be a key bench piece for a contender.  The Sox should get what they can.
Two weeks ago I would have been more than happy to put Brasier in the category below, but as of late he has shown some flashes of his 2018 form.  His trade value may never be higher. 
Barnes has shown he can be an effective middle reliever, but his current role with the Red Sox as a late inning high leverage pitcher has produced mixed results at best.  Even his successful outings are usually fraught with adventure.  But like many players on this team, he can be a solid depth piece to a contender’s bullpen.

DRIVE HIM TO THE AIRPORT – Michael Chavis, Martin Perez

Chavis may have been rushed to the big leagues too soon, but as his sample size grows, I see no indication he is an everyday MLB player.  He can hit soft throwing leftines, but so can a lot of other guys who can give you more with the glove.  The infrequent tape measure home runs aren’t worth it; take the best deal and cut ties.

Like Eovaldi, Perez was signed to be a fifth starter, but due to circumstances he is now the number two.  As a number five he would have been marginal.  As a number two he's been awful.

KEEP HIM - FOR NOW – Andrew Benintendi

To say Benintendi has been a disappointment is a major understatement.  After a promising start to his career, Benintendi has regressed the past two seasons and got off to a horrendous start to 2020.  He currently is on the IL with a rib cage injury a .103 batting average.  Sometimes averages can be deceiving, but not in this case.  Benny has looked every bit as bad at the plate as a .103 average would indicate.  He never was able to adapt to the leadoff role, and he could use a change of scenery to get his career going again.  Unfortunately poor performance plus damaged goods means the Red Sox will get less than ten cents on the dollar in a deal for Benny at this time.  Their best bet is to hold on to him at the deadline, hope he comes back before the end of the season and finishes strong, and then deal him over the offseason.

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  1. I concur with every single thing you said!!!


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Keep Him or Deal Him - Red Sox MLB Trade Deadline
Keep Him or Deal Him - Red Sox MLB Trade Deadline
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