By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
The “arms race” with the New York Yankees is in full swing. Manny Machado would certainly help bolster the Red Sox starting lineup for the next season. But is he really the best solution since it’s only a short term one? Certainly it’s perfectly reasonable to question whether the Red Sox would aggressively pursue a mega deal with Machado following the 2018 season if they are presently reluctant to sign J.D. Martinez, especially since Machado will likely cost considerably more.
One of the reasons I have been a huge proponent of pursuing Martinez is that he will likely come at a huge discount compared to that of Machado, and Bryce Harper. If the Red Sox can get a perennial 40 home run player in Martinez for HALF the cost of Machado/Harper, I’m all for the option which presents the best value. After all, what do the Washington Nationals have to show for Bryce Harper? Mike Trout in my opinion is the very best player in MLB, yet the Angels have never won a single playoff team since he’s been on their major league roster. Getting the best value gives you the most flexibility to also sign additional players who can
fill your team’s needs in other areas, like the rotation or bullpen.
Finding a way to fit Machado into the Red Sox infield is also tricky, especially due to the fact Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski just signed Mitch Moreland to a two year deal. Here are some scenarios in how Machado could possibly fit:
Slide Xander Bogaerts to second base:
One would think if Bogaerts could play short stop, surely he could play second base right? I’m not so sure. In early 2014 they tried Bogaerts out at third base when Will Middlebrooks wasn’t getting the job done. Bogaerts then struggled at the plate mightily. However, with Bogaerts having only two years left on his own deal, perhaps he might want to increase his value by becoming more versatile. Especially since he never evolved into the power hitter he was hyped up to be. When Pedroia does finally return to the Red Sox in June or so, they will have to reshuffle their infield, but can simply cross the bridge when they come to it.
Machado plays third base, Devers/Moreland/Hanley platoon at first base and DH:
In this scenario, Rafael Devers would get the majority of the playing time (essentially every day) be that at first base or DH depending how the opposing teams match up. Moreland ideally will only play 120-130 games between those positions. The most attractive aspect of this scenario is that it could provide an avenue to limit Hanley Ramirez’ at bats in 2018, so that his $22M vesting option for 2019 doesn’t kick in. He could also be straight up released from his contract by the time Pedroia returns in June, since he will likely be unable to make up for those missed at bats in the remaining three months of the regular season. It’s unlikely that the Red Sox will release Hanley before the start of the season, because if he has 450 at bats with another team, his option will still vest for 2019, and Boston will be on the hook for it. This scenario is obviously more of a long shot since too many stars have to align, but the front office must be open minded if they are serious about this trade.
Machado at shortstop, JBJ traded, Bogaerts to the OF:
Obviously this is not remotely likely. In fact, the reason I’m even including this scenario is to point out the fact that none of Boston’s infielders are versatile enough to transition to the outfield. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad as 2015 when Ben Cherington thought it was a genius idea to play Hanley in left field, but still not viable with any of the current Red Sox infielders. Had Dombrowski signed Eduardo Nunez instead of Mitch Moreland, Boston would have far more flexibility.
So finally, who would the Red Sox give up in a Machado trade? Despite the above listed scenarios, Bogaerts would possibly be in the deal if anyone on the major league roster is included. The Orioles would naturally start their initial demands high by asking for Rafael Devers. Devers has six years remaining, so it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox would ship him for only one guaranteed year for Machado. However, if the Red Sox could get Machado and his agent to agree to a long term extension, THEN perhaps Devers could be included in the deal. Though in my opinion Devers still gives the Red Sox the most value since he will be very affordable, and provide the flexibility to possibly extend Mookie Betts or Andrew Benintendi.
Michael Chavis will also be a target since he too can play third base. Chavis had a break out year between High-A and Double-A ball, swatting 31 home runs with 94 RBI’s. Not to mention a .282/.347/.568 slash line. He’s only 22 years old, and will be controllable for up to seven years. Realistically Chavis would definitely be sent to Baltimore should the Red Sox actually pull the trigger. They won’t have the luxury of acquring a top five MLB player and future hall of famer such as Machado AND manage to hang on to both Devers and Chavis.
I steadfastly believe our top prospect LHP Jay Groome is a bust, and would love to move him while his value is still high (not sure about a one year rental though), but he alone likely would not get the deal done, especially since he’s a few years away from being major league ready.
In closing, for those of you Red Sox fans who are huge proponents of this deal… You’ll need to come to terms with the fact the Yankees gave up much LESS for Giancarlo Stanton who has several years remaining, than the Red Sox will have to give up for just one year of Machado. And if you are trying to talk yourself into believing Machado could be acquired on the cheap, you must also know that the Orioles turned down the White Sox offer which included Lucas Giolito (RHP), who was the #3 prospect in all of major league baseball coming into last season.
I personally would not make this trade. I don’t see enough upside, not to mention Machado is a major punk, and I’d rather not see him wear our uniform. I similarly despised David Price before he ever signed with Boston, and I despise him far more now than ever.
But at least Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox front office are showing signs of life.
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