Saturday, July 19, 2014

2014 July Trade Deadline Preview

Today we stand a dozen days until the July 31 trade deadline. Even after the Red Sox beat the Royals  in the first post All Star Break game, they still stand at a very disappointing 44-52 at the bottom of the mediocre AL East.  Because of this poor standing, it is not clear if the Red Sox will be buyers or sellers, or some combination of both, at the deadline.  The Sox brass may not even have decided this internally yet, and the games between now and July 30( the Sox are off on deadline day) may determine their status.

Even if the Red Sox try to bring in some veteran help (not likely at this point), in other words be buyers, there are up to three current players who could be moved just to make room for some of the kids.

Last year in our July deadline post, we took a look team by team across MLB, to look for candidates to come to Boston.  This year the multitude of speculation involves which players will leave Boston, and in nearly every case for minor league prospects.  With just twelve days to go there we have heard only four or five names as possible major leaguers coming to Boston.  They are:

Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee, LHPs, Phillies.  Lee has been rumored to be on the Red Sox radar for years, he was mentioned in the RSM 2013 deadline post, and he is available.  But he has been injured for a lot of '14 and he is owed about $52M through 2016.  Hamels' name has cropped up in recent days, as insurance if the Red Sox cannot sign Jon Lester. Hamels and Lester have had similar careers, and the theory goes since Hamels has 5 years $90M remaining (on his original $144M deal), that his amount nearly matches what the Sox want Lester to take.  The drawbacks are twofold: Ruben Amaro, Phils GM. has stated he is not looking to shop Hamels, but would deal him for a package of three top prospects.  That is problem #1, to replace Lester it would cost players like Mookie Betts, Henry Owens, Blake Swihart, etc..( there is some talk Philadelphia wants two of these guys for Lee, too). Then after trading the package of kids there is problem #2, no guarantee Hamels can pitch in Boston.  Although I will grant you Philly is no warm and fuzzy fan base.  Hey, John Henry, just SIGN JON LESTER.

Allen Craig, 1B-OF, Cardinals.  His name first arose when the rumors of Jake Peavy to St. Louis surfaced.  The Cards are also looking to move some vets to make room for kids like Oscar Taveras and others.  But I do not believe St. Louis will do Craig for Peavy straight up.  If the Sox include a kid pitcher the deal is possible.  But, Craig's 2014 stats are down a lot, and he is also a bad defensive outfielder.  I do not think this is likely to happen.

Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres. This right handed hitting outfielder could have helped more a month or two ago.  The idea would have been then to help fill in for injured Shane Victorino and/or platoon in center with Jackie Bradley, Jr.  But tonight, Victorino is returning (although certainly no lock to stay healthy), and with his recent uptick in offense, JBJ needs to be in center nearly every day.  If the Sox surge in the next two weeks, Denorfia could be added to the mix.

Marlon Byrd, OF, Phillies.  Everything I just typed about Denorfia applies here, except for the fact Boston has all ready seen the sneaky good Marlon Byrd in 2012 and may not want to do so again.

Now onto the more likely action for Boston at the deadline. The moving of some of their veterans. The Red Sox began 2014 with 13 players who were potential free agents after this season.  Three have all ready moved on (Grady Sizemore, Chris Capuano, and AJ Piersynski), the remaining ten make up the list of likely players to be traded.  There are seven pitchers and three position players.

1. Jon Lester.  Without getting into the long list of very good reasons the Red Sox should SIGN JON LESTER, for deadline purposes there are three Red Sox management options.   First, SIGN JON LESTER. Second, ride out the rest of 2014 without an agreement, hoping to catch fire in August and September ( this would lead to two other post season options: lose him for a single draft pick or SIGN JON LESTER then).  The third July option if the Red Sox management is absolutely sure they cannot or will not be able to SIGN JON LESTER, they could trade him.  This would enable the Sox to get a return of more than a solitary pick in next June's draft.  But do not expect a haul like the Cubs got for Jeff Smadarjiza or like the Rays could get for David Price.  Both of those pitchers are signed through 2015.  The teams who could deal for Lester would only get two months of his service without a new deal. One other rumor out there is for the Red Sox to trade Lester now, and then when he becomes a free agent the Sox could SIGN JON LESTER.  I think that is next to impossible, if Lester gets to free agency in any manner, some other team (Yankees) will pay tens and tens of millions more than anyone including Boston. SIGN JON LESTER!!

2. John Lackey.  Lackey is a free agent to be in name only.  His original deal with Boston is up after 2014, but the much publicized year that Lackey has to pitch for the minimum $500,000 is actually a club option for 2015.  His free agent deal with the Sox included a clause stating if he missed time due to an elbow injury, the one year at league minimum  option would be in effect.  His Tommy John surgery causing him to miss '12 set this in motion.  This option will definitely be picked up.  This could make John Lackey the most attractive trade chip Boston has, either now or this winter.  If he is traded now, the receiving team has Lackey for the rest of this year and all of 2015.  And at $500,000 in '15 every single team in baseball could more than afford him.  Lackey could ( especially if Boston throws in a bullpen guy) bring a package similar to the A's gave the Cubs.  Maybe even one useful current big leaguer and a top prospect.  But trading Lackey now ( as with Lester) likely waves the white flag on 2014 ( although frees up another sport for a AAA starter).

3. Jake Peavy.  Here is the A1, top of the heap certain lock to be traded before July 31.  Peavy has pitched better than his one win on the ledger would suggest.  But he is a free agent after this year, and is in no way part of the 2015 Sox blueprint.  Jake has to be moved now to make way for Brandon Workman ( or Anthony Ranaudo or Allen Webster).  A week or two ago it looked like Peavy was gone to St. Louis.  This rumors have cooled, although I still consider St. Louis a possible Peavy landing spot.  The most recent reports I have read consider the Brewers, Angels, and Pirates the "finalists". Milwaukee was the first rumored suitor I had heard more than a month ago.  Peavy will go, likely to the NL where he could thrive for any contender down the stretch.  My guess is Pittsburgh.

4. Koji Uehara.  The Sox could have easily the best closer available at the deadline if they shop Koji. This to would seem to wave bye-bye to 2014, but there at least three good reasons to pursue this. First,  Uehara would be 40 next April, if the Sox brought him back on a new contract.  Secondly, this would give the Sox a chance to audition a younger internal option at closer. Maybe Junichi Tazawa or even one of the Pawtucket starters.  Thirdly and most importantly, there are contending teams out there who could use closer upgrades (Tigers, for one) or overall bullpen improvement (A's, Orioles, Dodgers, and others).  A very good player or two could be acquired by a contender for a Koji rental.  Remember the last time Koji was traded for two kids it was for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis.

5. Andrew Miller.  According today to Peter Gammons, Miller is the player the Sox are getting more calls on then any other player on their team.  With nearly every team in baseball in some sort of contention, at least for a wild card, there are likely two dozen teams who could use Miler, maybe even as a closer.  If Boston could two or three of those teams in a bidding war, who knows what the return may be.  The flip side is Miler is only 29, and has been blowing hitters away.  Perhaps they should be signing Miller to a new deal to help the 2015 Sox charge back to the top.

6. Burke Badenhop.  For most of this year, the ground ball specialist has pitched very effectively.  As a two month rental, Badenhop would help any contenders pen.  Just do not expect more than a Grade B prospect in return.

7. Craig Breslow.  One of the most sought after commodities at the deadline by contenders are lefty bullpen specialist.  Breslow fits the bill, and the vet had a great ALDS and ALCS just last year.

8. Jonny Gomes.  Probably the second most likely vet to go.  The Sox outfield is crowded and with Victorino's return,   Brock may take over left field.  But from the buyer's point of view, Gomes still pounds left handed pitching and has the reputation (and resume) of being a leader for a winning team. Two teams all ready linked to Gomes are Kansas City (who last found out first hand Gomes pounds lefties and can win games) and Seattle.

9. David Ross.  Of this whole list of ten, Ross is by far the least likely to be traded.  David has an important role on the 2014 Red Sox.  That is to mentor and teach Christian Vazquez, the young catcher.  Ross may well be re-signed for 2015 to have that same role to Vazquez and /or Blake Swihart.

10. Stephen Drew.  This is  a player who needs to be moved out of the way as soon as possible.  This is now being admitted by even most of the ardent proponents of bringing Drew back when he was on the free agent market.  Xander Bogaerts needs to be the shortstop for the next two months, so the Sox can decide once and for all if he can handle that position.  Several other players fates are intertwined in this decision.  The Tigers are one contender still lacking are real big league shortstop, and there are others who could use an upgrade.  The question is with Drew's poor 2014 offensive numbers, is he an upgrade.  If the Sox eat some money they should be able to move Drew.

Besides the free agents a few other names have been mentioned.  Will the Sox cut bait on Will Middlebrooks?  Now is not the prime time due to his injuries perhaps,and the Sox keep hinting they do not want to give up on his right handed power.  Jayson Stark, ESPN, threw out Junichi Tazawa's name but with so much of the  bullpen on the free agent to be list, that seems unlikely.  Nick Cafardo has reported the Sox have taken several calls on Mike Napoli.  But again with right handed power so scarce, and with Nap signed through 2015, he is a building block for next year and Boston would need to get a major offer to move him.

Check back to this post over the next 12 days to see any action on the Red Sox trade front and commentary on that action.


  1. John Lackey is going to go from the most overpaid to the most underpaid starter in the big leagues within the same contract. How strange is that?

  2. The Red Sox drop 3 of 4 in Toronto, after winning game one by piling up 14 runs, and edge even closer to full sell mode. The three this weekend in St. Pete against the red hot Rays, may be the final deciding factor. A Rays sweep, god forbid, would snuff even the faintest glimmer of palayoff hopes for 2014. A Sox sweep could push the Rays closer to a David Price trade. Big weekend.

  3. Here on July 26 the first trade has been made by Boston. Jake Peavy, according to multiple sources on twitter, has been dealt to the Giants. Peavy will be reunited with his old Padres manager, Bruce Bochy. Somewhat surprisingly the Sox are receiving pitching...two minor league pitchers. They are Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembee. Escobar, a lefty, entered this season as Baseball America's #56 prospect in baseball, but has struggled to a 5.11 ERA in AAA in 2014. But Escobar is in AAA at age 22. Hembee, a 25 year old righty has a 3.89 ERA as a reliever for AAA Fresno.

    Baseball America ranked Escobar as the Giants number 2 prospect and Hembee is #7. This is really an unexpected haul for Jake Peavy. What else does Ben have up his sleeve? How about some outfielders, Ben!

    1. Evidently Keith Law is not as high on Escobar and Humbee as Baseball America is. He was quoted as saying that he thought that the Red Sox would get more for Peavy. He called Escobar, and I'm paraphrasing, a AAAA starter and Humbee a major league ready reliever who can't stay healthy.

  4. Lester definitely seems to be on the market. Here are some notes about the possible deals and a list of potential suitors less than 48 hours until the deadline.

    Two interesting reports have surfaced. First yesterday it was reported the Sox were being flooded with inquiries about Lester and Lackey by contending teams including AL East teams. This will not be the Yankees and the Rays will not spend the cash to even rent Lester, so that leaves Baltimore and Toronto. Sure enough, hours later the Orioles are being called one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the running. And today the Jays are also being listed on a secondary list of teams interested.

    The other interesting report was the nugget that if the packages are enticing enough the Sox would trade both Lester and John Lackey. A while ago, I did read a second report that said if both are dealt, Boston would want a major league starter in return for at least one of the Jon/John's.

    Here is a list in some sort of order of likelihood to trade for Lester ( and in fact all of these clubs could be in on Lackey if not Lester).

    1. Dodgers- they have the money to sign Lester this winter, and they have at least two top tier prospects, the type Boston is insisting on in any deal: OF Joc Pederson and SS Corey Seager. The question is will LA trade either for Lester. My guess is Pederson, maybe...Seager, no. Despite LA being the so-called favorite, I think Lester goes elsewhere.

    2. Cardinals- St. Louis has tons of kids to deal, and a need in the rotation. They may not be as desperate to get to and win the World Series as most of the other teams on this list. The dream for Boston is OF Oscar Taveras, but he is the #2 prospect in baseball, not likely to get him. More likely are OF Stephen Piscotty and /or OF Randall Grichuk. If the Sox want a major league ready pitcher or two Shelby Miler or Carlos Martinez may be had. If St. Louis would move at least 2 of those names, they could be the frontrunner.

    3. Pirates- They would never sign Lester beyond 2014, but this is a franchise DESPERATE for the World Series. And they have one of the two or three best farm system in the game. The all ready have three young OFers in the bigs. Therefore AA OF Josh Bell or 2013 first rounder Austin Meadows could be had, along with a stud young pitcher like Jameson Tailon or Tyler Glasnow. If the Pirates include Bell I think they will acquire John Lester.

    Orioles- If Lester goes to Baltimore or Toronto, those teams have to overpay because they are AL East rivals. If Baltimore is hungry enough for the World Series to send either Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy to Boston, they are in the discussion...heavily.

    5. Brewers- The only real big time prospect is pitcher Jimmy Nelson, and to a lesser degree OF Victor Roache, but GM Doug Melvin has played this game twice before in deadline deals for CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke.

    6. Mariners- Here is a team that could re-sign Lester, a Washington native. Their best hitting prospect is 2013 draftee DJ Peterson, the other best prospects are pitchers, lefty James Paxton the most likely to be available.

    7. Braves They are on the list because Lester lives in Georgia in the off season. But they have few if any impact OF prospects, only a couple of AAA guys who are Bryce Brentz type guys. Unless the Braves include their #1 kid, P Lucas Sims or if the teams build a deal around Jason Heyward or Justin Upton ( unlikely for now....check back next winter) this does not work out.

    The rest of the field...teams mentioned as kicking the tires at least

    Blue Jays Do not have the kids for the needed over pay
    Angels Have all ready traded their limited amount of kids to Padres and DBacks.
    A's Who knows with Billy Beane
    Giants not enough big name prospects left

    I still wish the Sox would sign Lester, but they would have done so by now if they wanted to. I think he gets dealt, likely to a NL Central team.

  5. After tonight's game John Farrell announced Brandon Workman would start in Lester's place Wednesday. No surprise really. Around 1030 Tuesday two reports from Rob Bradford, the first saying the Orioles are out on Lester. The second referencing an unnamed GM as saying Lester will be traded by late tonight or tomm. morning at the latest. Stay tuned.

  6. With 25 hours until the deadline, St. Louis has traded for Justin Masterson. There are conflicting reports whether this takes them out of the Lester bidding. Gammons tweeted this first, he is also reporting Dodgers are out on any big pitcher, going for a lesser starter. This may be posturing, if not the Sox may be hard pressed to get a top of the line prospect like Josh Bell from Pittsburgh.

    In addition reports out today have intensifies that John Lackey is about to be traded as well. One team specifically mentioned is the Marlins. Both Lester and lackey are likely to go per these reports (in seperate deals)

  7. Felix Doubront traded to Cubs, Pete Abe reports Croiles are "close" to deal for Jon Lester.

  8. LESTER TRADED. To Oakland with Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick in 2015. Knew A's were in, but did not see that coming.

  9. Lester's gone...Lackey is next. I imagine they'll be looking for pitching prospects in return for Lackey or Miller. Perhaps Lackey and Miller will be packaged together to get a bigger haul in return.

  10. Not sure how I feel about Cespedes. His right handed pull power will certainly play well in Fenway, but he has a low OBP. He definitely fills a positional need as a corner outfielder, who can also play CF to spell JBJ once and a while.

  11. TRADED: John Lackey to the Cardinals. According to multiple sources. More details to come

  12. This deadline will not be quiet, like last year, a lot of trades going down and still more on tap...stay tuned!

  13. My God, for Allen Craig and Joe Kelley, hell I was hoping for Shelby Miller and a kid OFer, Ben rebuilding on the fly