Surprise trade coming for Red Sox?

Jared Wickerham

The Red Sox are positioned well to make a big trade. And maybe they will. But who will it be for?

I was talking to a prospect expert recently. To be clear, this isn’t something I typically do, but on this occasion I happened to be in close enough proximity that his not responding to my idiotic questions would have been rude. And so we talked.

We talked and we talked about baseball and we talked about the Red Sox. I asked what the chances were of a big trade, hinting gently at Giancarlo Stanton. I did this by saying, "Think the Red Sox have enough to get Stanton?" Subtle.

The answer isn’t important, but he did say something that was. He thought the next big Red Sox acquisition would be one we don’t see coming, someone completely off the radar, someone you wouldn’t think of as being available. The memories of that conversation came flooding back to me when I read MLB Trade Rumors last night. Under the heading "Rangers Assessing Trade Value of "Core-Type" Players" and quoting a piece from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, it said,

While the report did not include any specific information regarding particular players, Grant did go on to discuss some of the players who might fall under the "core-type" label. He lists Elvis Andrus, whose value is held down by his contract, and Alex Rios, whose contract has somewhat surprisingly turned into something of an asset, along with Joakim Soria, Adrian Beltre, and ace Yu Darvish. Needless to say, it would be a stunning development were Texas even to listen on Darvish; while Grant does not suggest that is under consideration, he does note that the club was willing to part with Mark Teixeira back in 2007.

That's a lot of text so let me cut out the filler and run the quote again:

Yu Darvish

There. That's about the meat of it.

Clicking over to the actual Grant article you'll find that the headline specifically mentions Darvish by name and his trade value! Darvish is a five win pitcher. In modern parlance if not in stature he's the Curt Schilling to Jon Lester's Pedro Martinez. He's 27 years old, signed for three seasons beyond this one for a total of $31 million and since he's come into the league in 2012 he's been the sixth most valuable pitcher in all of baseball by FanGraphs WAR. This guy is an ace. He's as acey as aces get. His numbers are as good as his stuff. He's young, he's cheap, he's holy crap I can't even believe this is something that made it into a newspaper let alone the head of someone who works for the Texas Rangers.

But this is a perfect example of what the gentleman I was talking to meant. Nobody thinks Yu Darvish is available. And why would they? He's damn amazing and the Rangers would be insane to deal him. Except, maybe they wouldn't. In looking at the Rangers page on Cot's Contracts, one thing jumped out at me regarding Darvish's contract. It runs through 2017, as I said above, but with one caveat: if Darvish wins the Cy Young Award between now and 2016, the 2017 season becomes a player option. There is no way Darvish would activate such an option, especially coming off a hypothetical Cy Young win, so should Darvish win the Cy, he'd be on a two year deal, a free agent following the 2016 season. That's still not tomorrow, but considerably closer. Teams are realizing that dealing a player with multiple years left on his contract helps maximize the value they get in return. So Darivsh probably has three plus seasons left, except there's a non-zero chance that maybe it's only two plus, a fact which maybe helps explain this silliness.

Even so, Yu Darvish shouldn't be available. Except, maybe he is. Maybe the Rangers really are thinking that with an older roster and some severe pitching injuries, their best chance at sustained success is to add a boatload of talent. Maybe they're just open enough to the idea. Maybe. Of course, if he is available the line will be out the door to deal for him, but even if so, who cares? The Red Sox have the prospects to compete with just about anyone, should they choose to do so.

And he's probably not available. But maybe someone else is. Maybe, like the gentleman told me, the next great Red Sox deal is someone we haven't even considered yet, someone, like Darvish, worth pining over. Something fun to think about after last night.

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