Jacoby Ellsbury wasn't close to being dealt with one year left on his deal, but the matter was discussed before Tuesday's deadline. (Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE)
Things would feel a lot different on Wednesday morning had the Red Sox and Rangers made a Josh Beckett trade before the deadline. Not just because Beckett would be in Texas, and Boston with a new-look rotation, but because, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI, the Sox and Rangers were discussing a blockbuster swap that would have also sent Jacoby Ellsbury and Kelly Shoppach to Texas along with Beckett.
Sadly, we only have one side of this could have been alternate reality, as there's no word on just who or what the Rangers would have sent back to Boston in order to get those three Sox. What we can assume, though, is that the return would have been significant, especially given the Rangers' strong farm system. The Red Sox might not have sold at the deadline, as many fans wanted them to, but they at least tested that approach -- and on the extreme end -- with the Rangers.
The inclusion of Ellsbury is intriguing, even if too much shouldn't be drawn from it given it's unknown if that's just who Texas wanted, or if it was Boston offering him up. Were the Rangers ready to move on from Josh Hamilton after 2012, and wanted a one-year stopgap -- one they could potentially extend for huge money -- in Ellsbury? Or was this the Red Sox admitting that they are fine with letting Jackie Bradley develop and take over in center as soon as he's ready, possibly having Ryan Kalish man the position in the meantime? It's the kind of thing we might not know for a long time, if ever, but it gives fans of either team plenty to think about.
Bradford also says that negotiations never reached the stage where Boston asked Beckett to waive his 10-and-five rights, so this deal, while discussed, was undoubtedly in its infant stages. Given Ellsbury would be claimed on waivers by, oh, any of the 29 other teams were he placed there in August, it's unlikely this potential swap would be revisited this month, even if Boston and Texas are considering talking about Beckett later on. There's always the off-season, though, especially if the Rangers are intent on letting Josh Hamilton walk away to sign for gobs of money elsewhere.
Of course, with Ryan Dempster now a Ranger, maybe Texas isn't interested in Beckett at all anymore. Who knows, though, given Neftali Feliz is undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Roy Oswalt has been banished to the bullpen for now, thanks to a 6.49 ERA in six starts, caused by an absurd hit rate (14 per nine) and seven homers in 34 innings. Texas has had essentially the opposite season from last year in terms of pitcher health, and with the club missing both Colby Lewis and Feliz for at least a portion of 2013, maybe Beckett remains appealing, especially given Dempster is just a pure rental.
On a semi-related note, maybe the Red Sox did the right thing by not offering Oswalt an actual contract after scouting him his past winter.