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The Red Sox have not been shy about making moves at the trade deadline and this year may be no different. Despite a number of close races around baseball, some teams are preparing to be sellers as July 31st nears. Carlos Beltran, Matt Garza and Andre Ethier are a few of the names that have been connected to the Red Sox as the rumor mill heats up.
The last time Carlos Beltran was a Red Sox trade target, he was on the Royals in 2004. Now, the hero of the 2004 Astros is at the end of his monster contract in New York. The Mets’ financial woes are well-documented and with the team sitting at one game over .500, the brain trust has decided to start looking towards the future. K-Rod to the Brewers was the first move of what could become a fire sale. After an injury plagued 2010, Beltran is enjoying a bounce back season. Through the first half of this season, the outfielder hit .285/.377/.503/.880 with 13 home runs. J.D. Drew is in the midst of a down year of his own. New addition Carl Crawford, who has taken longer than expected to adjust to his new team, is currently on the disabled list. Reinforcements in the outfield could be a welcome addition to an otherwise powerful Red Sox lineup.
While Josh Reddick has excelled over 61 at bats, Beltran could be an intriguing rental. A free agent at the end of the season, Beltran’s contract has a peculiar clause preventing the Mets (or any other team he should join) from offering arbitration. Without the availability of draft pick compensation, the Mets would likely prefer to receive something in exchange for their talented player than see him depart as a free agent.
With Beltran a perfect fit as a second half rental, several teams are interested besides the Sox, including the Giants and Tigers. Gordon Edes tweeted that the Sox and Mets have been in contact, but right now the club is just doing its due diligence.
This has been a tough season for the Red Sox rotation. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka have all spent time on the disabled list. Josh Beckett too has battled several small injuries. There were some rumors earlier in the week that the Cubs and Red Sox had some interest in a Matt Garza trade. The former Tampa Bay Ray was of course traded to the Cubs just this past winter. However, Sean McAdam heard that there is nothing going on at the moment between the clubs.
Over 95 innings before the All Star Break, Garza has racked up 99 strikeouts with an ERA of 4.26, and a WHIP of 1.33. While neither figure is terrible, both marks would be the right-hander’s worst since 2007. If the Cubs were expecting a National League boost to Garza’s numbers, it’s always possible they try to recoup some of their investment in what could be the first of several official rebuilding years.
Like the Mets, the Dodgers are in the midst of a lost season and payroll trouble. With uncertainty surrounding the ownership situation, LA may decide that their current stars are unlikely to remain with the team until they are competitive again. What makes Andre Ethier a special case for Boston is the man handling his recruitment: Dustin Pedroia. Back at Arizona State, Pedroia and Ethier were college teammates and the two friends still train together in the offseason.
While Ethier is in the final year of his two-year, $15.25 million dollar contract, the right-fielder will remain under team control through the 2012 season. Like the Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez or Jason Bay acquisitions, the Red Sox could trade for Ethier this summer or in the winter and still have a full year of control before he would hit free agency. If not, Boston still has the opportunity to sign the outfielder as a free agent in the winter of 2012. Ethier has put up a line of .293/.365/.487 during his time with the Dodgers so he could be an expensive acquisition, and the Red Sox have Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish under their control as well, either of whom could replace J.D. Drew in right field for the short or long term.