Gavin Floyd A Trade Target For Boston?

Stephen Dunn

Gavin Floyd, pegged last year as an ideal fit for an ailing Boston rotation, could be on the market again. Is the match still there to be made?

Last year, we tagged Gavin Floyd as a likely option. The White Sox did not appear on the fast tract to the playoffs--a belief which looks rather bad coming from us in hindsight, even if they didn't make it--and the Sox were in need of starting pitching. With Floyd's contract running into its last years, it seemed like a pretty decent match.

No deal ended up getting done. It's not even clear that there were any real talks at any point. But here we are one year later and it's possible that Floyd could be on the market once again. With plenty of pitching depth, some holes to fill elsewhere, and not much in the way of budget space, Boston's paler brethren could be interested in dealing from their deep rotation.

Floyd did not have the best season in 2012. While it would have ranked the best amongst Red Sox starters, we're at the point where that can basically be considered a backhanded compliment. His 4.29 ERA was about par for the course, but this time there's no argument to be made about underperforming peripherals, as all the various DIPS seemed to suggest he was in the area he deserved to be thanks to a sharp spike in BB/9.

Unfortunately for Floyd, there's not much to say about that walk rate other than he couldn't find the zone. 2012 saw Floyd throw a lower percentage of his pitches in the zone than any previous season. Everything else was fine: he only missed a couple games, had his typical velocity, and struck out more batters than he ever had before. But as the season wore on, Floyd just couldn't provide the same results. He walked four or more batters in six games, the earliest occasion coming on 6/14 and four coming after the All-Star Break. His ERA in those outings is an ugly 5.33.

Interestingly, though, this isn't when he had his biggest problems. In fact, it was that game in June that ended his worst streak, allowing 35 runs in as many innings over the course of six games between May and June. Perhaps Floyd's departure from the zone was a reaction to that--if it did get away from him at times, such as in those six games, on the whole it provided much better results. Setting that June 14th game as the sort of bookend, even when including it in the positive results Floyd managed a 3.47 ERA from then on.

The thing is, the Floyd who pitched in the second half seems objectively worse in a vacuum. A 77:44 K:BB is simply ugly compared to the 67:19 mark that Floyd produced in the first part of his season. In said vacuum, you want that first-half Floyd coming to your team, not that second-half Floyd, and it's almost certain that the first-half Floyd would end up producing better results wherever he ended up compared to the second-half Floyd.

The question is can Floyd recognize that and just trust his stuff? Go into a new year looking at it like that one month in 2012 had never happened, and pitch like he did in his most impressive years. If so, that's a valuable commodity, if not, well, there could be difficulties.

Of course, all this is moot if the two Sox teams can't find a match with eachother, and given that Chicago seems to be on the lookout for a third baseman, that would be a difficult match to make. Let's be clear: Will Middlebrooks isn't going anywhere, at least not for a guy like Floyd with one year left on his deal, and a fairly expensive ($9.5 million) one at that. That means the Red Sox would have to go outside the organization for someone Chicago wants, which means a three-way deal--always hard to pull off in the best of circumstances.

Unfortunately, third basemen aren't exactly a dime a dozen in the rest of the league either. There are a few good ones around, but most of them aren't moving anytime soon. The Rangers are happy to have Beltre, Miguel Cabrera barely counts but is obviously staying put, the Brewers have three good years on Aramis Ramirez' contract, and Ryan Zimmerman is signed through forever. Surprisingly, if there is someone who could be moved, he's at the top of the chart: David Wright. With just one year left on his deal and a Mets team that seems to be going nowhere fast behind him, if Wright can't come to an agreement with the Mets on an extension they seem likely to move him.

The problem is that any deal for a player as impressive as Wright would have to either have the Sox getting more than just Floyd back, or a significant chip-in from the White Sox to get the Mets to play ball. The Sox will not drop one of the Three Bs on a player like Floyd, and nor should they. Of course this brings up the issue that Chicago doesn't really seem to grasp the idea of a farm system, and so can't really contribute anything much to the equation unless they're willing to give up even more major league talent, which sort of defeats the purpose.

In the end, it might just not make any sense. The White Sox, sad to say, are after a position where there's very little mobility to be found the league round unless you're out to deal for Michael Young or pay top dollar, and without any sort of farm system it's really difficult to do the latter. When even the old fallback of a convoluted three-team deal seems impossible to balance, it might just be time to pack up and move on to a different plan. And for the Red Sox that should be just fine. They've got the money to play outside of the trade market, after all.

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