The Red Sox are at the point in the 2016 season where they need to make a trade if they foresee themselves making a run at the postseason.
The most likely acquisition would be to help bolster their shaky starting rotation or inconsistent bullpen. However, who would you trade at this point, or better yet, what prospects/young talent would teams want?
That’s where it gets difficult if you’re the Red Sox.
Everyone knows players such as Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are on other teams’ radar but the Sox can’t trade these future All-Stars. They both are 23-years-old and are just beginning to hit the prime of their careers. If the Sox traded either of the two, they would regret it for years to come.
Money is tied up with two individuals that at this point I’m not sure teams would trade a bag of baseballs for.
Allen Craig, who came over with Joe Kelley in the deal that sent John Lackey to St. Louis, has been an absolute dumpster fire. He’s only tallied 173 at bats for the Red Sox since the trade occurred in 2014. Craig has played the majority of his Red Sox career in Triple-A Pawtucket.
The other money casualty, Rusney Castillo, has yet to figure it out in the majors. Like Craig, he too has spent a large amount of time in Pawtucket. Castillo was supposed to be a “stud” outfielder that had a lot of power when the Sox signed him from Cuba in 2014. Let’s just say his performance doesn’t live up to his $10.5 million per year deal.
Other potential trade pieces for the Red Sox couldn’t be having worse years than this one.
Blake Swihart, primarily a catcher that was moved to the outfield to help boost trade value, was seen as the main piece in any trade that would’ve happened. Unfortunately an injury to his left ankle seems to have put that chatter to rest.
Sam Travis, the highly talented first base prospect, was having the best year of his young career. In 47 games with Pawtucket he batted .272 with six home runs, 29 RBI and had an OPS of .765. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is out for the season.
Brian Johnson, a one time heavily sought out lefty prospect, looked promising in his short big league stint last season. He would’ve been another important piece in potentially landing a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter. Well Johnson has dealt with some personal issues this season as he’s been on medical leave so he can deal with an anxiety problem.
Henry Owens is another tall lefty who has been ranked a top 50 prospect the past three seasons and has been anything but one. He was supposed to take over for Jon Lester after the Sox parted ways with him but that hasn’t been the case. In 14 big league starts he is 4-4 with a 4.66 ERA.
Owens gave up a run on five hits and three walks while striking out six swinging in 5.2 innings for the PawSox Monday night as you may have seen on NESN. But overall this season in Pawtucket, Owens has been extremely disappointing with the most glaring stat being his 33 walks in 50 innings pitched. At this point, he won’t bring anything significant back in a trade.
To go along with Betts and Bogaerts as untouchables, you have to consider adding Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi to that list.
Currently, Moncada is the Red Sox top prospect and he is certainly playing like it. The 21-year-old second baseman is batting .296 with 29 RBI, 39 walks and an .894 OPS. I can’t forget to mention in 53 games he’s totaled 33 stolen bases. The Dustin Pedroia replacement cannot be traded by any means necessary.
Benintendi has also shown why he is considered to be untouchable. Between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland, Benintendi is batting .304 with 39 RBI and a .844 OPS. His fielding has also been outstanding. In 43 games, he’s only committed one error and has an overall .993 fielding percentage.
As of right now it would be difficult for the Red Sox to make a blockbuster trade that would have fans jumping up and down Lansdowne Street. There are players who have proven themselves in the majors that simply can’t be moved and there are prospects who haven’t played to their potential, making it hard to move them.
One thing’s for certain, you can never doubt general manager Dave Dombrowski. He has a track record for pulling off stunning trades which have both backfired and rewarded his teams.
At this point in the season you have to do what it takes to win. And if that means moving a top prospect for a Jose Fernandez or Sonny Gray-like pitcher, then by all means pull the trigger and go for it.