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Boston Red Sox Have Trade Chips to Offer

December 10th, 2013 at 10:58 AM
By Ron Juckett

As Ben Cherington and the rest of the Boston Red Sox settle into Orlando for Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings this week, the most likely move you will see will be a trade.

With Mike Napoli back in the fold and Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia off to new teams, most of the business the Sox hoped to do, outside of re-signing Stephen Drew, was done before the flight from Boston.

While keeping Drew is something the Red Sox would like to do, Boston will spend this week seeing if they can either a speedy outfielder or some infield power to recoup what they lost with Ellsbury heading to New York.

Boston has chips ready to dangle if they are so inclined. They also have a little more flexibility in payroll and could trade contract for contract, if needed.

Chances are we will not know Drew’s decision this week. There are bigger names still on the free agent board, such as Shin-Soo Choo, that have yet to be signed and, if Drew leaves Boston, there is a draft pick attached to him as well.

The longer Drew goes without signing a new deal, the better the Red Sox chances get.

If you are looking for a sign that Drew will re-up, watch the rumors for any interest in Will Middlebrooks.

Only 24, Middlebrooks has seemingly hit a plateau with Boston after his hot play in 2012 forced Kevin Youkilis out of a job. Middlebrooks slumped badly at the plate, hitting .227 and fanning 98 times in 94 games, in 2013. On the plus side, he still hit 17 home runs and 18 doubles in a little more than half a season.

Other teams have inquired about utility player Mike Carp.

In his first year with the Sox, Carp hit .296, nine homers and 43 RBI in 86 games with an OPS of .885. Boston would dearly like to keep him, but if Carp was in a package for Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, it would be hard not to take.

If Carp goes, it will come at a high price.

Boston has two or potentially three veteran pitchers that could draw some interest as well.

Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy and John Lackey are being talked about in hotel suites around Walt Disney World, but only one of those three is likely to leave.

Lackey should go nowhere.

The bulldog that former-GM Theo Epstein hoped to bring from Anaheim finally showed up in 2013. Lackey’s ERA of 3.52 was second best in the starting rotation behind Clay Buchholz. Do not let that 10-13 win-loss record fool you. Lackey found his form last year and is pitching again with a chip on his shoulder.

Lackey also will pitch for the league minimum salary in 2015. Boston is not going to give up a free year.

Peavy is also likely to stay.

Coming over from the Chicago White Sox in a three-way trade that saw Jose Iglesias go to the Detroit Tigers, Peavy went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts. As with Lackey, Peavy plays with his emotions in full view. It would take a player like Kemp or a big surprise for Cherington to move him.

That leaves Dempster.

Dempster and Fenway were not a great mix. His 8-9 record with a hefty ERA of 4.57 saw Dempster pitch himself out of the rotation for the playoffs. Allowing 26 home runs over 171.1 innings, he needs a bigger park to turn those loud fly balls into outs. At $13.25 million for next season, you can see some National League tea taking him on a one-year rental to squeeze into a playoff spot.

It may not be a sexy week in Florida for Boston, but there could be a surprise or two as well.

*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Matt Kemp, MLB, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks

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