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As many of you have heard by now, the Blue Jays have pulled off one of the biggest trades in Major League Baseball history by acquiring RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, SS Jose Reyes, Utility man Emilio Bonafacio, and catcher John Buck in exchange for LHP Justin Nicolino, OF Jake Marsnick, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, SS Yunel Escobar (who will reportedly be slotted at 3B), RHP Henderson Alvarez, RHP Anthony DeScalfani, and C Jeff Mathis. Your first response might be, “they traded those players for who?” — and you would be totally justified in thinking such. At the moment, MLB commissioner Bud Selig is reviewing the terms of the deal, but should it hold up, it will have shaken the core dynamic of the American League East for the foreseeable future.
As much as this may or may not make the Blue Jays legitimate contenders, it still changes the way teams are approaching the offseason. The AL East now looks like a four-team race, and the Red Sox are on the outside looking in. It is going to take a lot to contend in the division, but this won’t stop Cherington from staying the course. On Tuesday night at a panel discussion at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Cherington said, “We have a plan for the offseason and we’ll see how much of it we can execute. If [the trade] does happen, it’s not going to change what our plan is or our ability to execute that plan.”
If that is the case, then it will be very interesting to see exactly how the offseason plays out. One of my initial key moves for the Red Sox offseason was going to be to trade for Mark Buehrle, but that is now out of the question, leaving precious few of the targets I had originally mentioned as potential rotation fillers the team should target this winter. James Shields is also off the list as a free agent signing as Tampa has exercised his option.
For all those fans worried that the Red Sox will view this as a transition period to get back in the hunt for the division, Cherington has addressed those problems. In an interview with local Boston radio station WEEI on Thursday, Cherington said, “I know that we’ll have a very strong payroll, a large payroll. I know that we’re going to add to it this winter. I’m confident in saying that we’ll be amongst the larger payrolls in the game. Exactly where it ends up, exactly what rank we are, I don’t know that yet. I think it just depends on what we do. We’re not going to shoot for an arbitrary payroll number just to say that we’re going to get to this. We just have to look at each opportunity as it comes and figure out whether it’s the right thing for the Red Sox.”
Personally, I really hope this means that management does not overspend in hopes of “feeding the monster” but makes important baseball decisions that will not sacrifice the future of this club while also fielding a competitive team in what looks to be a newly competitive American League East division.
If the Marlins are really dead set on trading away their squad, it would be important for the Red Sox to inquire about now extremely irked outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. If the price is right, he could be exactly the kind of power hitting right handed bat that the Red Sox need. Before the trade, I would not have fathomed it would be possible to acquire him, but now it seems like anything goes down in South Beach.
The Red Sox should still be targeting Mike Napoli to play first base while also exploring options of dealing one of their excess catchers to a team for a quality arm. Jason Vargas is still a solid option, but with the ability to trade Saltalamacchia now, they could acquire more of a steady third starter. Dan Haren is also an option as a free agent to fill out the rotation and throw for over 180 innings, pending his long-term projected health.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for the Boston Red Sox, but with the kind of flexibility the team has to improve upon its deficiencies, anything could happen.