Before you break out the tar and feathers, allow me to explain. With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire, free agent compensation is expected to change. I am of the belief that right now Kevin is worth more than a first round draft pick and a supplemental round draft pick anyway, but if the Sox are not sure of having even that, then they should endeavor to get the most value back for Youkilis that they can.
There has also been talk of moving Youkilis to DH full time. However, the Red Sox currently employ the best DH in the game in David Ortiz, who is in the midst of yet another fantastic year. I may be alone in this belief, but I feel that in 2012, if not even into 2013, Ortiz's bat will be better than Youkilis's if only slightly.
Finally, the Sox have 3B prospect Will Middlebrooks in AAA right now. While he may not be ready to immediately move up to the majors, his presence spells the end for Youkilis in Boston. While it breaks my heart to say so, it is time for Boston to bid farewell to the fabled Greek God of Walks.
But to make a trade, Boston would need a trade partner. Trade pieces don't manifest out of thin air for most major league GMs.* So we have another question: Who would trade for Youkilis, and what do the Red Sox want to acquire for him. The answers of course are: Playoff Contenders who need a corner infielder, and Middle Infield prospects and Pitching, respectively. Below, I have compiled a list of potential trade partners, and potential targets for the Sox:
*Alex Anthropoulos is the exception to this rule.
Gordon should be the #1 target for the Sox. He is exactly what they need right now, a major league ready shortstop who is projected to hit at least the major league average. However, the Dodgers aren't really expected to contend, and with their ownership situation in flux, they may not be making moves in the offseason.
Like Gordon, Barney is a middle infield prospect who can at least produce at the major league average with the bat. With Starlin Castro at shortstop, Barney's been moved to second base, which could be an issue if he has trouble moving back. The Cubs are also not expected to contend in 2012, and likely would not want to break up their young middle infield for a 33 year old first baseman.
3. Detroit Tigers. Target Prospect: ???
Dixon Machado has a .279 wOBA at A level ball, he supposedly has gold-glove level defense, but do does Jose Iglesias, and we already know about all-glove, no bat types. After trading for Doug Fister, I'm going to say Detroit does not fit what the Sox would be looking for. This is a personal disappointment for me, as I live in the Michigan area, and would have been able to watch Youk play every day.
The Twins have Danny Valencia (.302 OBP) and Justin Morneau (69 games, .274 wOBA, concussion) at the corners. With Jim Thome gone and Cuddyer a free agent, they may be open to trading for Kevin. If this is the case then Gibson would be a welcome addition to the 5th starter competition in spring training.
Weeks is a 2B, so the Sox would be weighing their options trying to convert him to SS. Cliff Pennington could be another option. Beane's shifted his focus from OBP to defense, so he may not be as in love with Kevin Youkilis as he was in Moneyball.
Seattle was in contention until late June when their anemic offense let them down. Zdurencik would likely jump at the chance to add an all-star 3B to replace the offensively-dead Chone Figgins. Franklin spent 2011 in AA, but if he continues to hit at his current pace he could be in the majors in 2013.
In 10 MLB games, Minor has a 4.37 ERA. He also has an FIP under 2.50. Atlanta may or may not deal him, they have a metric tonne of pitching depth, but he is ML-ready pitching talent. However, Chipper Jones should be retiring soon, and acquiring Youk would make the sting of Jones's departure hurt a little less.
9. Milwaukee Brewers. Target: ???
Milwaukee blew up their farm system last year. Theo might be able to find a package for Youk, but I cannot.
10. St Louis Cardinals. Target ???
With no middle infield or high-ceiling pitching prospects, the Cards fall in the same category as the Tigers and Brewers. Better hope you hold onto Pujols, Cards fans.
I would like to go on record as saying I do not like Jonathan Sanchez. He and Brian Wilson have found a way to turn a somewhat likable team on the west coast into a team I want to lose whenever they don't play the Yankees or Phils. That being said, he is a good pitcher, and could be a useful #5 starter. Just don't make me listen to him talk. Crawford is a meh prospect, but he has a good glove and gets on base at a decent clip. Needs more seasoning in AAA.