If Ben Cherington were still running baseball operations of the Red Sox, it would be fairly easy to predict which players were safe from being traded.
The Sox, like any team, tend to believe in players they drafted, signed or traded for. They trust their scouts and their analysts.
But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has no emotional connection to any of these players. He wasn’t in the room and didn’t hear the debates. These players are somebody else’s.
Outside of righthanded reliever Roman Mendez, a low-profile waiver claim, there’s not one player in the organization Dombrowski obtained.
So don’t be surprised if some unexpected trades come down. Players Cherington wanted, in some cases, may not be ones Dombrowski thinks much of.
Beyond that, the Sox are 149-175 the last two seasons, finishing in last place both times. There’s something to be said for change and plenty of it.
Here’s a look at the trade possibilities of those players who have at least a little trade value and will be under control following the World Series:
Won’t be traded
David Ortiz: Big Papi has full no-trade rights and zero interest in starting over with another team. Beyond that, ownership would never allow it. The guess is Ortiz plays one more season.
Dustin Pedroia: Trading Pedroia is an interesting concept. His value remains high and the Red Sox could replace him at second base with Mookie Betts or, eventually, Yoan Moncada. They’d also be free of a contract that has him signed through 2021.
But it’s hard to imagine ownership allowing Dombrowski to do that. Pedroia is a touchstone player, a face-of-the-franchise type you can put on a NESN commercial. Once Ortiz retires, he’s the billboard.
It would take a huge return
Mookie Betts: He’s cost-controlled, 23 and a star in the making. To trade Betts, the Sox would have to get a no-doubt-about-it player.
Xander Bogaerts: What’s true for Betts is especially true for Bogaerts because he’s a shortstop. Bogaerts is represented by Scott Boras and will be difficult to sign to a contract extension, which changes the equation a bit. But Bogaerts is under team control through 2019.
Eduardo Rodriguez: The 22-year-old lefthander may or may not develop into an ace. But at worst he’s a No. 3 starter on a contending team. He has plenty of value, but the Sox need starters, so a trade is unlikely.
The biggest chip
Blake Swihart: If the Red Sox believe Christian Vazquez will be healthy and ready to go for Opening Day, trading Swihart becomes an option. A young, talented, and cost-controlled catcher could be part of a package that brings back a top-tier starter.
But dealing Swihart would be difficult because of his vast potential. They’d have to be awfully sure.
It would be a civic holiday
Hanley Ramirez: Improving the pitching staff is the biggest priority for Dombrowski. Trading Ramirez should be second. The Red Sox were a better team without him this season and there is nowhere for him to play. Playing him at first base is an all-time bad idea.
Trading Ramirez is a whatever-it-takes proposition and will be difficult. Dombrowski might have to attach him to a good prospect, get ownership to pick up a bunch of his money or take back a bad contract. Or all three.
Pablo Sandoval: Ideally, Sandoval would get traded and another mistake rectified. But the Red Sox need somebody to play third base and Sandoval should be able to do that at something approximating a league-average level. They can only eat so much money.
Allen Craig: A trade is probably best for all concerned. The problem is Craig has at least $21 million remaining on his deal and has hit .206 the last two seasons. Barring a career resurrection, Craig could be parked in Pawtucket again.
Maybe it’s time
Clay Buchholz: The Red Sox hold a $13 million option on Buchholz. If Dombrowski decides he can do better, he could pick up the option and trade the righthander. Buchholz has missed 55 starts the last five years because of assorted injuries and illnesses. Trading Buchholz would be a sign the status quo isn’t good enough.
Junichi Tazawa: The Sox have leaned heavily on Tazawa the last three years, pitching him 216 times, including the postseason. You can make a case that it would be better to trade him now and let somebody else deal with his breakdown. Tazawa is due roughly $3.3 million in his second year of arbitration.
Value may never be higher
Jackie Bradley Jr.: Bradley had an adjusted OPS of 120 this season and hit 10 home runs. He’s also a year away from arbitration. Plenty of teams need center fielders and the market for Bradley would be active.
Brock Holt: Everybody loves Holt. He’s versatile, selfless, and productive in his role. After making the All-Star team, now would be the time to get the most in return. The Sox could turn Deven Marrero into their utility guy.
Joe Kelly: This could be another Buchholz in the making, a guy with top-shelf stuff who can’t quite be trusted to stay healthy. Kelly was 7-0 with a 2.35 earned run average in his last eight starts and may never have more trade value.
Henry Owens: Dombrowski likes pitchers who throw hard. Owens does not throw hard. The lefthander’s ceiling is probably a No. 4 starter. The Red Sox Prospect Media Hype Machine loves Owens, but Dombrowski may have other ideas.
Travis Shaw: The rookie first baseman did well in his first exposure to the majors after a rocky season in Triple A. Maybe now is the best time to trade him.
Never say never
Rusney Castillo: As Detroit’s GM, Dombrowski tried to sign Castillo out of Cuba. He’s probably glad he didn’t. The Red Sox invested $72.5 million in a player who hasn’t shown much in 90 major league games. Contending teams need more from a corner outfielder.
Wade Miley: The lefthander is the epitome of league average. He has pitched 138 games in five seasons and has an adjusted ERA of 101. There’s value in a league-average guy who makes every start. But the Sox could certainly do better.
Rick Porcello: The odds are against a trade. Porcello was 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA and has four years and $82.5 million left on his contract. The Red Sox have to hope Cherington was right about Porcello.
Koji Uehara: The closer has a 1.86 ERA with the Sox and has averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Don’t bet against him being productive, but the Sox aren’t married to him at this point.
Ryan Hanigan: The Sox can’t keep three catchers. If they decide to keep Vazquez and Swihart, Hanigan becomes a trade chip. Plenty of teams need solid backup catchers.
Part of a package?
Matt Barnes: The former first-round pick has a 5.19 ERA in 37 major league games. He could follow the same path out of town as Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and that crew.
Heath Hembree: He was effective in stretches this season, but averaged a modest 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Tommy Layne: He’s a lefty specialist and a pretty good one. He’s economical, so trading him doesn’t seem likely.
Deven Marrero: Defensively, Marrero can play shortstop right away. His offense may not be there, but a team needing a trustworthy glove might be interested.
Noe Ramirez: The rookie righthander showed flashes of late-inning reliability. If another team needed him to make a deal, you make the deal.
Robbie Ross Jr.: The lefty is arbitration eligible and won’t be especially expensive. If the Sox decide to non-tender him, he could get traded before the deadline.
Christian Vazquez: The catcher is coming off Tommy John surgery, making him an unlikely trade candidate before spring training.
Steven Wright: The former administration liked knuckleballers. We’ll see what Dombrowski thinks. Wright was out with a concussion when Dombrowski was hired and did not return.