FORT MYERS, Fla. — Activity is beginning to pick up on the baseball trade front as rosters get closer to being set, opt-outs in contracts are being executed, and players out of options are being discussed.
The Red Sox are one of the teams being targeted by clubs needing young outfielders, according to major league sources. Cleveland, for instance, loves Boston’s young outfielders.
The Indians have been pitching a trade, but Mookie Betts is untouchable, and it seems far-fetched that Jackie Bradley Jr. would be dealt unless the return were significant. The only “young” outfielder the Red Sox might consider dealing would be Rusney Castillo, and he’s 28 and earns $10 million a year. The Red Sox would have to eat some money.
The Angels, Orioles, White Sox, Blue Jays, Indians, and Mets are among teams looking for outfield help. One player who is going to draw interest is David Murphy, who has a March 27 opt-out with Boston. A look at the Red Sox roster indicates there’s no room for Murphy even in reserve, with Chris Young and Brock Holt holding down spots.
Murphy played for both the Indians and Angels last season and they didn’t re-sign him, so it appears they would not have interest. The Orioles might have interest in Murphy, who is more of a corner outfielder now; he still can play center but not as well as he used to.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has downplayed the Red Sox’ need for another starting pitcher, but the Indians may give him something to think about if they’re offering one of their top guys like a Carlos Carrasco.
The Red Sox will start the season without Eduardo Rodriguez, but his knee injury shouldn’t keep him out later than May 1. If it had been more problematic, the Red Sox might have bitten on one of these deals, since the competition for Rodriguez’s spot is among Steven Wright, Roenis Elias, and Henry Owens.
The Red Sox have the prospects to give up for a young elite starter such as Sonny Gray or Chris Sale. It would take five or six prospects to get Gray, and even then the A’s have no desire to deal him. The White Sox say they will not discuss Sale, even after the Adam LaRoche incident in which Sale ridiculed executive vice president Ken Williams for wanting LaRoche to scale back on 14-year-old Drake LaRoche’s time in the White Sox clubhouse.
Some scouts assigned to watch the Red Sox don’t think the team should be too excited about its starting pitching beyond David Price. And the bullpen, especially now with Carson Smith injured, isn’t as rock-solid as it was on paper this offseason, except for Craig Kimbrel.
Teams have also looked at Boston’s third base situation. Travis Shaw comes up often, but the Red Sox would rather keep him. Would a team take Pablo Sandoval, with Boston eating (so to speak) much of the contract?
There also are unsigned outfielders out there such as Alex Rios and David DeJesus who could make their way into a team’s minor league system.
Will the Red Sox do something dramatic before the end of camp?
There will be scenarios presented to them that may give Dombrowski pause. If camp has done anything, it has brought out that the rotation after Price is iffy at best and the bullpen isn’t as solid as we thought in December.