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For the first time in John Farrell’s managerial tenure with the Boston Red Sox, the team has dropped four consecutive games after being swept at Fenway Park by the Detroit Tigers. Boston scored just three total runs in the series, and now has a 20-23 record as we approach the month of June. For the defending World Series champions, the 2014 season has been defined by the inability of the team to reach and stay above .500.
Offense has been the biggest concern for the Red Sox. Entering their day off on Monday, Boston has the eighth worst team batting average in baseball. They also have little to no production on the base paths, as the team has just 13 steals in 24 attempts.
Given the structure of the Sox lineup, speed isn’t necessarily something that will be easy to fix after losing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason to free agency. However, Boston is blessed with an abundant farm system of talent, which makes the idea of a trade appealing when the team experiences a tough stretch like this, so they can look to the trade market for an impactful hitter who can make an immediate difference and stick around to make trading prospects worthwhile in the long run.
The most appealing bat that may be available is none other than Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The 24-year-old is under team control until 2017, and would likely be extended if he were ever dealt to a larger market like Boston. Stanton possesses extraordinary power and has been a tremendous force in the Marlins’ lineup over the last five years.
Acquiring Stanton would take an extremely appealing package of prospects, but the Sox may be in the best position to make such a trade during this season. The Marlins recently lost ace Jose Fernandez for the remainder of the 2014 season and for part of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, which makes it unrealistic that they will continue to stick around in the National League playoff race. The team has said in the past that they will not trade Stanton, but realistically they are just waiting around for the best offer possible in order to avoid depreciating his value.
If the Red Sox want to make a huge splash and attempt to negotiate for Stanton, the time between now and the July 31st trading deadline would be ideal. Regardless of Boston’s position at the deadline, there should still be the fear that the lineup will return to the bleak state it is currently experiencing. So let’s not overreact and trade for Stanton today, but instead remember that the need could exist regardless of the success of the Red Sox over the next two months.
Stanton is a dangerous right-handed hitter who could fit beautifully at Fenway Park. His power to pull the ball could make at bats look like batting practice when launching balls over the Green Monster, and his ability to drive pitches the other way could make him a doubles machine when pushing baseballs into the right-center alley.
So what exactly would it take to trade for Stanton? A lot. The Red Sox have an extremely deep farm system, but acquiring him would require the team to empty a great portion of their value. The real question should be, what players can the Red Sox afford to part ways with in order to make the Stanton trade worthwhile?
Second baseman Mookie Betts has been called the most blocked player in all of baseball because of Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox have discussed moving Betts to the outfield in order to make a trip to the major leagues more possible, but right now he’s an extremely attractive trade chip, especially for a Marlins team that is always seeking attractive young position players. The 21-year-old Betts would be a significant part of a potential trade.
The Marlins inquired about 23-year-old third baseman Garin Cecchini last winter, making him an obvious choice to include in such a trade. While he is regarded as the upcoming replacement for Will Middlebrooks at the hot corner, the Sox may be wiser to deal the prospect and hold faith in Middlebrooks’ ability to revive his career, especially without the pressure of knowing his job is on the line with Cecchini’s imminent arrival.
The Red Sox are blessed with two young catching prospects, which is one of the key reasons they were willing to part ways with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency. However, I would put the value in holding onto two young catchers as questionable at best, as it would seem more logical to develop one and keep a veteran like David Ross around for support.
Boston can make this decision by including either 23-year-old Christian Vazquez or 22-year-old Blake Swihart in the trade for Stanton. Each has their upside; Vazquez is stellar behind the plate and Swihart swings a great bat, but I feel as though it would be more trouble than it’s worth to attempt to manage both catchers at the same time. If I had to choose one to deal, I’d part ways with Vazquez with the hope that Swihart’s defense improves.
The Marlins already have an excellent young starting rotation on paper when healthy, but if the team was interested in reinforcements, which is likely in a trade for Stanton, they could explore any of Boston’s incredible young starters, including Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, or Anthony Ranaudo. However, I would resist trading more than any one of these pitchers in such a deal.
Trading four players (Betts, Cecchini, Vazquez, and one of the pitchers) for Stanton would be a huge deal, and likely a good trade for both sides.
The Sox could begin using the following lineup in their quest to defend their World Series championship:
2B Dustin Pedroia
RF Shane Victorino
LF Giancarlo Stanton
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
C A.J. Pierzynski
SS Xander Bogaerts
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
3B Will Middlebrooks
Perhaps the more significant reason why this trade is so perfect for the Sox at this time is because it sacrifices a very small part of their future; minimizing the cost of players they trade away while maximizing Miami’s interest.
However, it takes two teams to make a deal and despite trading away a roster of All-Stars over the last few seasons, the Marlins have held their ground regarding trading Stanton. At the least, it would be interesting to see if this type of a talented package would make them budge. I ask why the Red Sox wouldn’t attempt this type of trade.
Tags: Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox, Christian Vazquez, David Ross, Dustin Pedroia, Garin Cecchini, Giancarlo Stanton, Henry Owens, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jose Fernandez, Matt Barnes, Miami Marlins, Mookie Betts, Will Middlebrooks