General manager Ben Cherington went on WEEI on Thursday, and, unsurprisingly, the subject of Kevin Youkilis and possible trades came up. He didn't sound like someone eager to move Youkilis, but that's not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, either: a player with an injury history and recent struggles doesn't need anymore piling on when it comes to his value, especially in front of a public arena that's already dreaming of a future with Will Middlebrooks at third. From the interview:
"The reality is that there's nothing going on," Cherington said. "We've talked to several teams about several things, and teams have called to check in on Youk. That was a while back, probably right before he went on his rehab assignment. Right now we're focused on getting Kevin going, he's an important part of the team and we know that when he's clicking and feeling good he makes our lineup very tough to pitch to."
Of course Cherington and the Red Sox want Youkilis to be productive and in Boston. Things would be a lot easier if he stayed healthy and hit once more, as Middlebrooks could go back down to Pawtucket to learn and wait, or maybe someone would offer a substantial trade return for Youk, impressed by his return to form. It's hard to be that optimistic, though, given how things have gone since last August. Even if Cherington is saying that nothing is going on publicly, that doesn't mean that Boston isn't listening and waiting for the right offer to open the door for full-time Middlebrooks in a lineup that could use him in that capacity.
As the trade deadline nears, expect more and more talk of Youkilis being moved. Someone in need of offense, willing to take a risk, is likely to come calling again, and this time, they'll be more willing to finish off a deal. Boston doesn't have to actively shop him for this to occur, as it's just a natural outcome of a season.