As the Red Sox’s season from hell draws to a close, I can’t help but look ahead at the offseason, which should be full of plenty of intrigue for the Red Sox. If we’ve learned one thing since the trade shed a quarter-billion from Boston coffers, it’s that the club still has many gaping holes to plug. You can expect the team to pursue several trades, as the free-agent market is poor and the team won’t want to make the same mistake as in the past by investing significant dollars into a top free agent, such as Zack Greinke.
If the Red Sox are going to wheel and deal, that means they will have to trade players to get players. But who? That’s what I’m going to cover today, as I came up with a list of players who could be dealt. I limited the list to only major-league players, as trying to predict which prospects will be dealt is a bit of a fallacy — you should consider every prospect up for grabs, depending on the caliber of player coming back. I’ve also made predictions on who goes and who stays.
There’s been a lot of chatter over Ellsbury, who will be in his final season before free agency, and whether he will return. There seems to be a split camp here. On one hand, Ellsbury, aside from 2011, has not been an All-Star caliber player and boasts as an agent Scott Boras. (So why would any team deal for him?) On the other hand, the Red Sox do have money to spend and could resign Ellsbury regardless of his demand — but Jackie Bradley, Jr. is making waves down the farm. I don’t see what the Sox could get back for Ellsbury that would justify moving someone of his talent who could break out again in 2013 and who can be resigned. Verdict: STAYS
The Red Sox have two starting-caliber catchers and while Boston could certainly go into the season with a timeshare (or move one to first), Salty and Ryan Lavarnway are simply too valuable trade pieces. Again, if Boston is going to be as active on the trade market as expected and plugging holes such as starting pitcher, outfield and first base, prized assets will have to be given up. Whether it’s Salty or Lavarnway will depend on if the team is rebuilding or contending, as well as what kind of player comes back. Verdict: UNSURE
Lavarnway hasn’t lit the world on fire since receiving extended playing time, but he’ll still be a valuable commodity. No one doubts his ability to hit and he was voted the best defensive catcher in Triple-A this past season, so his ability to stay behind the plate looks pretty set. There are plenty of teams that could use a good, young catcher and will be willing to give up what it takes to get that person. He would only go in a big deal, so the odds that he’s traded aren’t very high. Still, if Boston’s going to swing for the fences for a quality, young player who is getting expensive, Lavarnway almost has to be in the deal. Verdict: UNSURE
If there’s one thing I’m convinced about, it’s that Mike Aviles will be traded. Aviles is neither a cornerstone or a young building block like Lavarnway. He’s a quality, complementary piece at a position of scarcity in the majors. If the Red Sox really are going to dip into the trade market heavily, Aviles would be a popular name. While moving to Jose Iglesias would mean sacrificing offense, his defensive wizardry and low salary make him an asset, and maybe he can eventually become Rey Sanchez with the stick. VERDICT: GOES
Doubront is wrapping up what by all accounts should be considered a successful rookie year. He showed the ability to miss bats and if he can firm up his command, could emerge as a legitimate No. 3 starter in the bigs. However, for those same reasons, he will be asked a lot in trade packages. Depending if the Sox can bring in more arms in trade or free agency, it might make sense to trade Doubront. For example, the Indians will most likely be trading Shin-Soo Choo in the offseason, who would fit great in right field. Doubront would certainly be a top name on the Indians’ list in exchange for Choo. Still, it’s hard to imagine Boston coughing up a legitimate young hitter. Justr VERDICT: STAYS
Aceves has talent, we all realize that. He was sensational for the 2011 squad, but it seems like he’s just so hard-headed, he keeps playing himself off teams. This year, he didn’t make the rotation but grabbed the closer’s job which was a major show of faith by Bobby Valentine. He wasn’t perfect, but was good enough, for most of the year. But once he started getting bombed and pulled from games, he was grossly unprofessional to the skipper. That kind of behavior can’t go ignored, but can the Sox afford to give up the talent of Aceves? A non-tender seems to be a stretch, but a trade certainly makes sense, as Boston can at least recoup some value. VERDICT: GOES
Kalish might have made himself untradeable with his myriad injuries thus far, but could still function as a trade chip. One of Boston’s major aims will be at boosting the outfield due to Ellsbury’s impending free agency and the possibility Cody Ross doesn’t return. If Ellsbury and Ross stay with the club, Kalish could fill the gap in left field or be swapped for perhaps another outfielder. Given that the amount of young, projectable, major-league ready players the club would trade has is small, Kalish is a logical candidate to be included in a deal. VERDICT: GOES
One of the things that went right this year was the bullpen, which really impressed. Atchison was among those that impressed, churning out a career season at age 36. People could always use pen arms, and with the Red Sox having stockpiled some decent depth here, it makes sense to ship out some bullpen assets. Atchison, while he could still be a boon to the Sox bullpen in 2013, is at the apex of his trade value. He might not fetch much on his own, but in a trade package, he seems like a logical piece to help round the deal out. VERDICT: GOES
Miller has really blossomed into a quality reliever this season, but he’s done so as a lefty specialist. If the Red Sox resign Rich Hill, which I have to imagine they would, then Miller suddenly becomes redundant. That works to the Red Sox’s favor, as Miller could then be dangled in a trade. The one drawback is that he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time with a base salary of $1 million, so he’s going to start getting expensive for someone who is good for only about 40-50 innings a year. VERDICT: GOES