I want to preface this article by stating that if we are less than 5 games back in late July, then the statements put forward in this article do not apply. All moves made in this article would be made near the trading deadline.
The Red Sox are a good team that, in my opinion, is headed in the wrong direction. An organization that was once a near-perpetual prospect generator and the envy of 28 other clubs in the league has begun to use a tactic I associate with the mid-2000s Yankees, we are buying our players instead of attempting to promote internal growth. Sometimes, as is the case with Adrian Gonzalez, that works out. Sometimes, as is the case with Julio Lugo or Bobby Jenks, it fails miserably and we're left paying millions of dollars to players who are not giving us a good chance to win games.
The Red Sox won the 2007 World Series through a combination of shrewd FA signings (Ortiz), some great homegrown players (Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youkilis), economic might (Manny, Drew), and one big "what the fuck were they thinking?" trade (Beckett/Lowell for Hanley/Anibal).
However, our last shrewd free agent signing came in 2010, when we signed Adrian Beltre to a pillow contract for $10 million, and in the current CBA climate, throwing our financial weight around has proven less effective, as teams like Texas, Anaheim, and Detroit have started to catch up with the Red Sox. Hamstrung by two massive contracts that will not produce an equivalent value from the players, it is time the Red Sox took a different tactic, but with no help coming from the minors any time soon, the 2012 season looks somewhat bleak. The offense will be great, but the pitching staff is in shambles, and the pieces that still have upside have to be considered inconsistent at best.
The Red Sox are in a unique position in 2012. When most teams become sellers, it is because they are about to go into a lengthy rebuilding process, it will be years before they are competitive again. With the Red Sox core composed of good, young players however, the team can sell off their spare parts and still be in a position to excel in 2013. The Red Sox, based on their economic prowess, have the ability to sell off talented pieces of their team, without giving up anything vital to their 2013 World Series run. Lets take a look at what they have to offer other teams:
Selling the closer Billy Beane pulled off this tactic on Cherington this winter, and Ben should be prepared to use the same gambit in July. Relievers are the least reliable players in the game, and it is all but guaranteed that a contending team will be looking for bullpen help. Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves, and even Daniel Bard could find themselves suiting up for another team this summer, as we receive a hefty package of prospects for the most overvalued position in baseball.
The Power Auction Kevin Youkilis has a team option for 2013, but given his play style at the hot corner, his career may take a better turn if he were to go to a team in need of help at first base. Texas, Milwaukee, Washington, and Arizona all come to mind as teams that could use Youk's blend of offense and defense at first base.
The Elder Statesman This one is hard to swallow, because I love David Ortiz and I want to see him retire in a Boston uniform. AL teams in need of a powerful DH could come calling, but his potential $16 million price tag may be too heavy for some. Detroit, Minnesota, or Cleveland could be options if we pick up some of the salary.
The Young Catcher Ryan Lavarnway is one of the few bright spots in Boston's upper minors, and if he continues to hit and his defense improves, Jarrod Saltalamacchia may not be long for the Red Sox. Jarrod is an interesting case, with years of control left he could interest both contending and rebuilding teams as an option for the future. As a catcher, he would also fetch a premium price.
The MVP It wouldn't be my first choice to move Ellsbury, but if he and Scott Boras are intent on moving on to free agency then we would be stupid to not try and grab a huge package for the player. Ells is under control for one year after this one, so it may behoove us to hold onto him if he repeats his 2011 performance, using him to make a run at the title in 2013.
The Wishful Thinking He'll be almost impossible to move, and if we get a package in return for him it would be at the expense of salary relief, but Carl Crawford should at least be put on the market, interest will come from teams hoping that leaving Boston's misshapen left field will help Crawford return to his old form and be the 4-5 WAR player he was in Tampa Bay.
By moving these players in 2012, the Red Sox can rebuild their upper minors, putting them in a better position to contend, and win, in 2013 and beyond.
I want to finish this article by stating that if we are less than 5 games back in late July, then the statements put forward in this article do not apply. All moves in this article will be made during the trade deadline.