It would be pretty crazy for the Red Sox to be looking at more trades right now. As Spring Training is off and running and the roster is pretty much set, it's unlikely they are even entertaining any offers. However, our pals over at AZ Snake Pit took a stroll down Fantasy Trade Machine Boulevard, and presented an interesting idea featuring the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox. You should go read about it here.
At the end of the post, AZSP suggests a trade of Jake Lamb and Yasmany Tomas for Steven Wright, Pablo Sandoval and $4.3 million. The trade sounds like something out of MLB: The Show rather than something that would actually happen. However, if Dave Dombrowski and old pal Mike Hazen (who left the Red Sox front office to become GM of the D-Backs last fall) came together, would this be a good trade for the Red Sox?
TL;DR: Yes. Hell yes.
For those of you still with me, let’s dive into this. With Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello, the Red Sox have a fantastic top three in the starting rotation, and Drew Pomeranz, Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez give the team solid options at No. 4 and No. 5. However, as I detailed recently, third base is not a spot stocked with depth or talent (barring a Sandoval resurgence). The Sox already flipped Clay Buchholz and Rodriguez is dealing with an injury issue, so the starting pitching depth is a bit shallower than it was. Yet, they could still afford to lose a starting pitcher. Sale, Price and Porcello are untouchable, unless the Angels dangle Mike Trout out there or something. That means Rodriguez, Pomeranz and Wright are the MLB-ready arms that would be on the block. If they were going to send someone packing, it would make sense that it would be for a third basemen and it would make sense that Wright would be the pitcher sent in the package.
Rodriguez has shown flashes of being an upper rotation hurler and is still quite young. Pomeranz didn’t amaze (or even impress) in his half season with Boston, but he is only 28 and the Sox gave up a hefty price in Anderson Espinoza for his services. They probably aren’t ready to give up on the southpaw just yet.
That leaves Wright, who represents a wonderful sell-high candidate. A 32-year-old knuckleballer who really thrived in the first half last season, Wright is a fan favorite who made the All-Star game last summer. However, he also got hurt and while his 2.68 ERA in the the first half was outstanding, he posted a 5.06 ERA in the second half. If you are looking for a regression candidate in 2016, Wright should be up there on the list.
So what if the Sox could avoid that possible regression and solve their third base woes? Is that something they’d be interested in? I’d say yes.
Now losing Sandoval after putting so much money on the table to sign him might seem out there (especially because he is so slim now!), but Sandoval is also on the wrong side of 30, and -2.2 fWAR as a Red Sox is not exactly a number that promises an upward trend. But what about a 26-year-old third baseman who posted a fWAR of 2.5 in 2016? That sounds like a guy on the upswing to me, and that’s who Lamb is. Admittedly, Lamb is coming off a breakout year in which he slashed.249/.332/.509 and hit 29 home runs, good for a wRC+ of 114. He was a two-win player in 2015 as well, according to FanGraphs, so it’s not as if his breakthrough was completely unpredictable or unsustainable. Projections back that up, as Lamb is pegged as a 1.9 to 2.4 win player, depending on who you ask. Lamb is certainly a bat-first player, as defensive metrics don’t look too favorably on his work at the hot corner, but his bat more than makes up for it. Again, we’re talking about him filling in at a position that has largely produced negative value for the Red Sox recently, so even if he doesn’t dominate in the field he would still be an upgrade.
Then there’s the last player in this proposed deal: Tomas. His addition would create a bit of a logjam for the Sox, as he would be competing for playing time at DH and in the outfield, where the Sox have more than enough options. However, Tomas has played 31 games at third base in his career (although all in 2015 and with not great defensive results) and I’d imagine John Farrell could find a way to fit a guy who slashed .272/.313./508 and hit 31 home runs last season into the lineup on a regular basis. Now there are still reservations about Tomas, as he was essentially a replacement level player last season (-0.1 fWAR), but some of that can be attributed to his struggles playing the field and running the bases. If he was able to just focus on hitting, you’d have to imagine that the 25-year-old’s value would increase.
That’s all the actual on-field performance angles of the deal, but what about the financials? As AZSP pointed out, Tomas and Sandoval are under eerily similar contracts (with the $4.3 million ironing out the difference), while Wright and Lamb are both under control through 2021 at league minimum and arbitration prices. So you can check this box as well.
In all, this trade would yield two mid-20 year olds who can hit for power. One of those two would fit a huge need (Lamb) and the other would add fuel to the Red Sox’ already potent offensive fire (Tomas). All the Sox would give up is an older pitcher coming off a career year (Wright) and a disappointing free agent signing (Sandoval). That’s a deal I’d make 100 times out of 100, and that’s without even accounting for some other potential impact a deal would have. (For example: Rafael Devers could suddenly become a trade piece if Lamb pans out).
Its unlikely the Diamondbacks would want to do this deal, but I would imagine the Sox would jump at it. Of course, none of that matters since this is all imaginary, but it’s at least interesting to think about another way to fix holes on the roster as the 2017 season approaches.