Potential Trade Partners for Kevin Youkilis: Third Base

With credible rumors swirling over Fenway, it's finally time to examine potential trade partners for Youk.

'Kevin  Youkilis' photo (c) 2009, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Ah, Kevin Youkilis.  So fiery….so gritty…so misunderstood.   And if you believe some of the reports that were released late last week, he’s so going to be traded at some point between now and the July 31st trading deadline.  On Friday, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports dropped this little bit of knowledge on a semi-unsuspecting baseball universe:

“Red Sox are telling teams they definitely intend to trade Youkilis.”

While Knobler didn’t divulge his source(s), it should be noted that he’s pretty well known for his accuracy when sharing MLB hot stove rumors.  That’s not to say he’s never wrong, but he’s far more reliable than a certain CBS colleague who has the reputation for being nothing more than Scott Boras’s personal mouth piece.  (**cough** Jon Heyman **cough**)

Given the potential implications Knobler’s intel could have on team chemistry and Youkilis’s overall trade value, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was quick to combat the rumor:

“That’s inaccurate.  Some teams have checked in on him.  We haven’t told any teams we plan to trade him. It’s our job to listen if teams have interest.  He’s swinging the bat well since coming off the DL and [is] a big part of our team and lineup.”

While I don’t think Cherington’s statement is completely inaccurate, it comes across as nothing more than “damage control.”  I don’t doubt teams are calling daily asking about Youk’s availability.  After a winter where Aramis Ramirez was the top third base free agent solution, a lot of teams were left wanting.

Still, if the Red Sox aren’t actively shopping Youkilis, they will be very soon.  Although the Red Sox are suffering from a serious case of the injury bug right now (especially in the outfield), antibodies in the form of All-Star caliber players are soon on the way.  Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Cody Ross are all expected to return to the fold at some point over the next eight weeks.  Until they do, the Red Sox’s major league roster is pretty shallow.

To be fair, the shallowness of the Red Sox major league roster has actually played well into their hands; especially since Youk’s return from the disabled list.  In fact, it allowed the club to avoid making a tough roster move:  sending rookie sensation, Will Middlebrooks (.384 wOBA in 106 PAs), back to AAA to make room for the grizzled, goatee cloaked veteran.  Instead, as a result of creative positioning, they’ve been able to play both players daily.  By moving first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to right field (defensive metrics be damned!), shifting Youkilis across the diamond from first to third, and allowing Middlebrooks to remain at third; the Red Sox have put themselves in a position to maximize their offensive output.

Of course, this is only a short term solution.  As soon as one of the aforementioned outfielders returns from the DL, the Red Sox will be forced to either bench, trade, or demote someone.  With Adrian Gonzalez signed to a seven year $154M contract, it’s pretty clear he won’t be the one losing his job.  If Middlebrooks continues to hit as well as he has, it’ll become increasingly difficult to justify his demotion.  That leaves one option:  trade Kevin Youkilis, one of our last connections to the fateful 2004 championship team.

So who might be in the market for Youkilis’s services?  Let’s take a look at a few of the options:

Arizona Diamondbacks - Currently the Diamondbacks sit in third place in the NL West at 25-29, eight games behind the division leading Dodgers.  With the recent advent of the second Wild Card, they’re still in the thick of the playoff race despite; only six games back.  As of today, they have the immortal 31 year old Ryan Roberts holding down the fort batting .220/.281/.320.  Yikes!  With Chris Young back in the fold; Justin Upton likely (hopefully) to turn it around at the plate; and Stephen Drew on the mend, Kevin Youkilis could be the piece they D’Backs need to gear up for a serious playoff run.

Chicago White Sox – It’s safe to say that most of us assumed the Detroit Tigers, not the Chicago White Sox, would be sitting pretty in first place come early June.  Well, we were wrong.  Very, very wrong.  The Tigers are languishing five games back, and even the mighty Justin Verlander can’t stop their slide.  The White Sox have smartly taken advantage by combining a powerful offensive attack (Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn) with solid pitching (Jake Peavy and Chris Sale).  While Alexei Ramirez‘s struggles are disturbing, third base has been a much bigger black hole for the White Sox.  Brent Morel (.177/.225/.195), Eduardo Escobar (.178/.275/.244), and Orlando Hudson (.184/.295/.289) have been picking up the lion’s share of the plate appearances.  Clearly, they’re in serious need of an offensive upgrade at the hot corner.  Youkilis would be a very interesting pickup.

Cincinnati Reds – Despite their division rival (Cardinals) having the NL’s best run differential, the Reds have built a three game lead in the NL Central.  Their pitching, primarily their bullpen, has been superb  this season.  Their offense, save for Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, has been surprisingly mediocre.  One of the biggest offenders has been former All-Star Scott Rolen, who has been plagued by shoulder injuries all season (and the last seven years).  Through 101 plate appearances, Rolen’s produced a dismal .174/.238/.304 slash line that leave little to be desired.  For a team battling a potential titan in St. Louis, they’ll need some a reinforcement at the hot corner in order to stay serious contenders.

Los Angeles Dodgers – On paper, the Dodgers should probably run away with the National League West.  With Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Clayton Kershaw on their marquee, they boast three of the brightest young stars in the game.  To date, they’re three games up on the San Francisco Giants, their most hated rival.  Considering they’ve been without Kemp, the reigning NL MVP, for 18 games, it’s hard to be too disappointed with the placement in the standings.  Still, there’s one giant black mark on the roster they’ve yet to solve–third base.  Currently, the woefully underwhelming Juan Uribe (.250/.302/.338) and the delightfully scrappy (but not very talented) Adam Kennedy (.213/.316/.275) have been manning the hot corner for Mattingly’s Dodgers.  That won’t get it done long-term.  A healthy and productive Youkilis would help change the complexion of the lineup by adding greater depth and security should someone be striken with injury.

Philadelphia Phillies – All things considered, the Phillies are doing a lot better than I thought they’d be right now.  Ryan Howard and Chase Utley haven’t played a game yet–and may not for a few months.  Roy Halladay is on the shelf with an injury to his right latissimus.  Cliff Lee and Vance Worley have all missed time due to injury.  Somehow, they’re a game above .500, and only 3.5 games back in the NL East.  And unlike the four above named teams, the Phillies have a solid, albeit unspectacular option, at third in Placido Polanco.  What they don’t have is an acceptable replacement for Utley.  Instead, they have Freddy Galvis; a light hitting but decent defensive player.  If Utley ends up missing the entire season, the Phillies may decide to trade for a third baseman, and shift Polanco over to second to split duties with Galvis.  With their offense struggling, Youk might be just the kind of bat they need to help supplement their needs until Howard and Utley return.

Categories: Adam Dunn Adam Kennedy Adrian Gonzalez Alexi Ramirez Andre Ethier Aramis Ramirez Boston Red Sox Brent Morel Carl Crawford Chase Utley Chris Sale Chris Young Clayton Kershaw Cliff Lee Cody Ross Eduardo Escobar Jacoby Ellsbury Jake Peavy Jay Bruce Joey Votto Juan Uribe Justin Upton Justin Verlander Matt Kemp Paul Konerko Roy Halladay Ryan Howard Ryan Roberts Scott Rolen Stephen Drew Vance Worley Will Middlebrooks

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

20 Responses to “Potential Trade Partners for Kevin Youkilis: Third Base” Subscribe

  1. Bruce June 4, 2012 at 10:11 AM #

    Youkilis can't play 3rd anymore. I don't see a team trading for him to play third. Seems to me like he fits better at first. He will stay health thus hitting better and be a real asset. $12 million for an often injured mediocre 3rd baseman seems like a stretch. I'll bet he goes to a team who needs a 1st baseman.

    • ChipBuck June 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM #

      Teams will do whatever they need to do. Youk may not be good at third, but he technically can play third. A-Gon can't play RF, but we have him playing there now. The market is more favorable for third basemen right now. We will see.

  2. Walt in Maryland June 4, 2012 at 10:12 AM #

    What's very clear from this analysis is that there should be a pretty robust market for Youkilis' services if and when the Red Sox decide to trade him. And this list doesn't even include teams like the Giants, Brewers and Indians, who also could use a RH corner bat. Youkilis' ability to play third base puts him in an entirely different category from most players of his ilk.

    I've assumed all along the Sox would seek young talent in return. Is that your expectation?

    • ChipBuck June 4, 2012 at 11:17 AM #

      For some reason, I wasn't thinking about first base when I wrote it. I'll follow it up on Wednesday.

  3. Tom June 4, 2012 at 12:39 PM #

    Seems to me that the Indians at 1B would be a logical destination for Youk, should they remain in the race. They could really use a bat at 1B, and Youk still a very good glove at 1B, not so much at 3B.

    • ChipBuck June 4, 2012 at 7:06 PM #

      I will be covering first base in my follow-up column on Wednesday.

  4. stephen June 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM #

    with all these players coming back soon from the DL someone is going to have to go down to the minors so i think getting prospects for him that may come up in a year or two would be better for the sox so they actually may have a place on thier roster for the player. it is a weird scenerio to have too many good players on your team but come a few years ortiz may be retiring or trades or drops could happen making more room for players coming up through the farm system. this could easily fill up room for the sox. another idea i think that could work, although it may be a little risky, is trade youkilis to a team for prospects and then trade bucholtz or dice-k to the mariners for king felix along with a prospect or two because the mariners will most likely not be able to get him back when he goes to the free agent market and i assume would love to get a bat or potential good pitcher and/or prospects that can be on thier team for a while and improve them. i see hernandez as a player similar to Roy halliday. he eats away at their money and is a good way to get prospects for the team. does this in any way sound like a possible scenario for the sox?

    • Alex Convery June 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM #

      The Mariners are not going to trade Hernandez for Buchholz or Daisuke. If you're trying to put together a package for Hernandez, start thinking of something more like Middlebrooks, Matt Barnes, Ryan Lavarnaway, and someone like Anthony Ranaudo.

      • Alex Convery June 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM #

        Lavarnway*

    • ChipBuck June 4, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

      Seriously guys. Felix Hernandez is not going anywhere any time soon. And he's certainly not going to be traded for either a pitcher recovering from TJ that hasn't thrown an MLB pitch in over a year (and will be an FA at the end of the season, or a pitcher that's been struggling for the bulk of the season. If Buchholz was ever going to be traded for King Felix it was after the 2007 season. It's time to stop with the pipe dreams and live in reality.

      If Hernandez *is* ever traded, it will be for prospects. We're talking a current day package on par with Matt Barnes, Bryce Brentz, and Jackie Bradley, plus one or two throw-ins. It's as simple as that. No one wants to trade a star pitcher for someone else's trash.

      • ChipBuck June 4, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

        Also, when you guys are thinking about potential trade ideas, you need to think to yourself "If I was offered this trade, would I take it?" If you laugh, then your trade suggestion is pretty awful.

  5. louie June 5, 2012 at 12:37 PM #

    imagine if he goes to the white sox. a konerko- dunn- youkilis heart of the order. it might not have the star power of the tigers lineup, but it would be close. i'd rather have him at 1st too, but there aren't a lot of 3rd basemen with his bat and production.

    • ChipBuck June 6, 2012 at 8:24 AM #

      That would be very solid. Plus, Rios and Pierzynski are hitting well again. If Alexei Ramirez can get back on track (he's been awful so far), that's a pretty solid lineup.

  6. Kevin June 5, 2012 at 12:50 PM #

    The best thing the RedSox can hope for is that Philladephia is out of the playoff hunt due to injuries. They can then trade Youk for the best possible prospects they can get. Then put together a prospect based package for Cole Hamels.

    • ChipBuck June 6, 2012 at 8:16 AM #

      The only problem is that I'm not sure what prospects they might put together. Then again, with Cole Hamels they wouldn't need much. Still, I don't see the Phillies trading him away unless negotiations get ugly.

  7. Danny June 5, 2012 at 3:55 PM #

    Who could we expect to get in return from these teams?

    • ChipBuck June 6, 2012 at 8:23 AM #

      Mark Normandin at OTM mentioned A-ball prospects that the Red Sox wouldn't have to add to the 40-man roster. It's not sexy, but it makes a lot of sense. Currently, we have eight players on the 60-day DL (which doesn't require a spot on the 40-man). Lackey and Jenks won't return this season, and Carpenter seems iffy. This leaves five players (Dice-K, Ellsbury, Crawford, Bailey, and Kalish) in need of roster spots in the upcoming weeks; meaning five players will be shed. It's going to be an interesting few weeks to say the least.

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