Despite the claims in some quarters that Josh Beckett is nearly untradeable, due to contact and off the field issues, is the opportunity to move Josh increasing for Ben Cherington?
Starting pitching is always a hot commodity at the July 31st trade deadline, and this year is no different. And with a majority of MLB teams in both leagues still in at least the wild card hunts there are lots of buyers and fewer sellers of starting pitching.
A number of the most oft rumored SP trade candidates are off the market all ready due to several reasons. Cole Hamels, considered the crown jewel of trade options ( especially to Texas) has re-signed a mega deal with the Phils and is off the market.The second highest rated option was Zack Greinke and he has all ready been dealt to the Angels. Other starters all ready traded include Anabil Sanchez, Wandy Rodriquez, Francisco Liriano, Brett Meyers ( a bullpen guy now, but could start), and to a lesser level Jeremy Guthrie and Jonthan Sanchez.
Two guys Theo and the Cubs were trying hard to move are all but off the open market. Matt Garza has been dinged up with minor injuries, and will not pitch again until early August, making his trade before July 31 all but undoable. And Theo's other chip, Ryan Dempster, seems determined to force a deal to only the Dodgers, potentially taking him off the table for any other team.
That leaves two other pitchers rumored heavily to be available: Josh Johnson of the Marlins and James Shields of the Rays. But according to numerous reports both of these pitchers are in the same boat, their teams would need to be bowled over with a multi player, top level talent packages to move either guy. The Angels were supposedly the team most willing to jump on Shields, but they spent their chips on Greinke. The one team with the prospects and the need for Johnson is Texas. But there is another problem with giving up 2-3 top line talents for Josh Johnson, that is his health concerns. He has missed considerable time in each of the last two seasons, and his shoulder woes from last year have never been completely explained. It is very likely neither Johnson or Shields go anywhere.
Another pitcher who would be coveted but is not going anywhere is Jon Lester, so that brings us back to his teammate, Josh Beckett. Does he have baggage, sure. But he is a veteran guy, not that old ( 32), with a ton of positive post season experience. With several teams still shopping: Texas, Braves, Dodgers, Orioles, and likely others, a market could develop. The Red Sox likely would need to eat some money, but one of the riddles on Beckett: is it a good thing or bad that he has two more years on his deal? On one hand you hear teams not wanting a rental ( a FA after this year), but also not wanting to be saddled with a lot of contract cash.
I still think it comes down to mostly Texas. Beckett does have 10/5 rights meaning he has to approve any deal, and this could sour some deals. But you have to believe he would jump at a chance to pitch at home in Texas. The Rangers needed a starter all along, and now have lost out on Hamels and Greinke ( to their divsional rival), and maybe gun shy on Johnson. In addition, Neftali Feliz has had a setback in his injury rehab. Nolan Ryan has to think if he can kick Josh Hamilton's ass publicly, he can whip Beckett into shape for his Rangers. The Sox will not get the top of the line Rangers' prospects but their system is loaded, a mid level guy or two, plus moving Beckett would do the trick from Boston's perspective.
If not Texas, I think the next two mostly likely trade options are the Dodgers if they do not get Dempster, and Dan Duquette is a wild card entrant to grab Beckett ( maybe even taking his whole contract) if the Sox are willing to ship Beckett in to the AL East. Lesser options include the Braves ( if THEY do not get Dempster) or maybe the Jays and John Farrell take a crack at it.
As this is written, there a just minutes over 48 hours to go until the deadline. The Sox will make moves, but can Beckett be one of them??