By Terry Cushman – @AVIDBOS_PODCAST
The Red Sox have an intriguing off season ahead. Free Agency starts within the next couple of days, and the GM meetings take place next week for each MLB team’s execs to talk to agents, as well as each other to guage trade scenarios.
One player who has been speculated to end up on the trade block is Xander Bogaerts. Once considered to be an “untouchable” prospect who would play short stop at Fenway for the “next decade,” Bogaerts has largely been a disappointment. Two years in a row he has faded drastically in the second half, and appears to lack serious confidence when it comes to the power hitting department. A big key to Bogaerts’ success has been his ability to slap base hits to the opposite side of the field. At least until opposing pitchers figure that out, which is when his epic struggles at the plate begin. So let’s explore some conventional trade scenarios…
Power Bat: This is an obvious need for the Red Sox since finishing at the bottom of MLB in home runs during 2017. The main problem with this particular scenario is if a team is trying to boost it’s offensive output, why would they give up a critical bat just to get lesser production from Bogaerts? It would literally make their team worse. Furthmore, why would a general manager want to give up valuable prospects when he could simply sign a player like Eduardo Nunez or Zack Cosart?
Starting Pitcher: I suppose it never hurts to add a starting pitcher. However, Bogaerts by himself would not net a “top of the rotation” pitcher. Trading him would more likely add a “back end” of the rotation guy, and the Red Sox have an abundance of those calibur pitchers with Steven Wright, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez (by May or June), and some AAA options as well.
Late Inning Reliever: This is another area where it never hurts to add a player. Despite likely losing Addison Reed, the Red Sox have a potentially strong bullpen as it already stands. Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Tyler Thornburg, and Joe Kelly are all formidable late inning relievers. Austin Maddox seemed to thrive as well during his big league call ups. So trading Bogaerts in the off season simply for the sake of doing it doesn’t make sense. If Thornburg doesn’t fully recover, or other injuries take place, it could make more sense to deal him at the July 31 deadline if the bullpen is in fact struggling. It is also important to note that another team would need to be desperate for a shortstop for the stars to properly align.
As part of a Stanton trade: This idea has been kicked around A LOT in recent weeks, but quite frankly makes the least sense of every possible scenario. Bogaerts only has 2018 & 2019 remaining on his contract before he becomes a free agent. The Miami Marlins won’t be competitive for AT LEAST the next three or four years while they work on their rebuild. So Bogaerts will essentially be long gone before the Marlins ever even get the chance to utilize him in any potential division race. He simply does not fit into their current situation in any possible way.
At the end of the day, there is simply no market for position players like Bogaerts with how MLB is trending. Take Manny Machado or Ian Kinsler for example: They were both available at last season’s July 31 deadline with another full season (2018) remaining on their contracts, yet neither player was moved. The Orioles, despite all of their posturing, would have gladly taken a big package of prospects for Machado since they can’t afford to re-sign him anyway. But MLB teams aren’t willing to give those up unless their potential acquisition has SEVERAL years remaining on their contracts. Eduardo Nunez, Jay Bruce, and J.D. Martinez were all RENTAL players due to the fact their contracts were expiring at the end of the 2017 season. All three were subsequently traded for very low level minor leaguers who will never make the majors. Teams would rather pursue these short term types of options rather than give up significant prospects for a Xander Bogaerts player who have shorter windows before free agency.
The only players with real trade value in the Red Sox system are Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Jason Groome, and Michael Chavis. All of them are controllable for the next five to seven years, and are very inexpensive. Such players are generally considered to be untouchable. The Red Sox would demand a HUGE return if they were to ship any one of them out of town.
Still think Bogaerts is being traded? Stand down. He isn’t going anywhere.
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