Offseason analysis, particularly early in the offseason, generally focuses more on free agency than trades. Part of that is that more signings happen than trades, but I think (at least in my experience) the bigger factor is simply that we know which free agents are out there. We don’t necessarily have a great grasp on the trade market. I know I don’t like to look stupid, so I get not wanting to guess on a trade market. I super get not wanting to put together a trade package, an exercise I flat-out refuse to take part in.
What I do want to do, though, is look at the possible trade market for the Red Sox. As in, the whole damn thing. Boston is in a really interesting position for trades this winter that could make them extremely active. They have a new head of their front office with no real connection to any player in the organization. They also have put themselves in a position with their self-imposed payroll restrictions where they still want to put a contender on the field and have holes to fill to that end, but they also have veterans that could help contenders with contracts they’d like to unload. In other words, there’s not really a team with whom they theoretically wouldn’t make sense as a trade partner. So, let’s try to figure out what the key piece in a trade going one way or another with each team in the league would be.
New York Yankees
Look, I know Chaim Bloom said he wouldn’t rule out a trade with the Yankees, but come on. Get outta here. Is it great business to completely take a team out of your trade market? Probably not. Do I care? No. Don’t trade with the Yankees.
Tampa Bay Rays
I’m also not sure a trade with the Rays makes sense. For one thing, they are direct competition in the division and that makes me wary. Also, Bloom worked in that front office like five minutes ago. Would be a little weird, imo.
Okay, those are the only two teams I’m doing that with.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are interesting as they aren’t too far away from starting to push their chips in, but it’s probably still at least a year away. Ken Giles is perhaps the top reliever on the trade market, and the Red Sox should be in. With one year of control remaining his cost won’t be astronomical and he’d fit in great in front of Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Josh Taylor. The Jays also have three viable catchers, so a minor trade for Luke Maile could also be a possibility.
Clearly the Orioles are sellers, so the Red Sox aren’t going to give up any of their contracts here. The issue is that Baltimore is so bad that they don’t really have many sell-able pieces. Mychal Givens is probably the best fit as another reliever, though not a clear top arm like Giles would be.
The Twins were the surprise team in the American League last year, but then they saw some of their pitching (Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda) hit free agency this winter. I’m not convinced Minnesota would open their wallets for something like this, but if Bloom is motivated to move David Price or Nathan Eovaldi (I’m not so convinced it would be wise, but I don’t run a baseball team) the Twins could be an option if the free agent music stops playing and they still have rotation issues.
I’m going to be honest, I have no idea what Cleveland is doing. They might trade Corey Kluber this winter. There are whispers about Francisco Lindor? But they still kinda look like contenders? I don’t know. If they sell, Brad Hand could be an interesting option for the Red Sox. If they are buying, Jackie Bradley Jr. could make sense in Cleveland to help solidify that outfield.
Chicago White Sox
J.D. Martinez was the first name to come to mind, but after signing Yasmani Grandal and re-signing José Abreu long-term, it’s looking less likely. Still, Chicago doesn’t have much to help the Red Sox that they would sell (I don’t think they’re going to sell off relief pitching) so I’m sticking with Martinez even though that kind of aggression from Chicago would be surprising.
The Tigers are obviously sellers still, and they have a reliever that would generate a lot of interest if he becomes available. Joe Jiménez has a ton of talent and while he hasn’t quite put it all together yet he’s only 24 (he’ll turn 25 in January). It may be more costly in terms of prospects than Bloom would like, but Jiménez would be an intriguing, long-term add to the bullpen. Niko Goodrum, who can play either first or second, could be another option.
Kansas City Royals
Much like the Orioles, the Royals are so set in their rebuild that they really don’t have many players that would help the Red Sox. Ian Kennedy would be a great addition, but his salary is too high to be a realistic option. (I died inside typing that sentence.) I’m going to say Whit Merrifield here, but I don’t believe there’s more than a ten percent chance of it actually happening, and even that is probably very generous.
The Astros have bigger issues on their hands than hypothetical trades with the Red Sox, but this exercise must go on! A trade between these two teams is probably not super likely, but if the Red Sox trade Bradley Jr. somewhere and want a cheaper replacement, Houston could be willing to deal Jake Marisnick. Alex Cora, of course, is already familiar from his time as the Astros bench coach.
Coming off of back-to-back 97-win seasons and with the Astros being in a bizarre situation, this is the time for Oakland to go all-in. Of course, there is no reason to think they’ll spend the money to do that. So, maybe they’ll look to shed some money and spend it somewhere else. Maybe they’re willing to sell low on Blake Treinen.
Los Angeles Angels
This one is super boring. Max Stassi was extremely bad last year. He has been less bad in the past. The Angels need a new catcher, which would make Stassi expendable. The Red Sox may need a backup. You get it.
The Rangers have the possibility of being one of the most interesting teams this winter with a weird but intriguing mix of players and a new stadium opening up. There’s been some speculation about them trying to get the Red Sox to take on Rougned Odor, and there’s been speculation about them potentially taking on Price or Eovaldi. Let’s just leave it there, yeah? (Not that I would do it because I don’t think Odor is particularly good.)
Jerry Dipoto is basically Jason Statham from Crank except instead of needing to keep his adrenaline flowing he needs to make trades. This is another place the Red Sox could turn after a potential Bradley Jr. trade, with the Mariners developing a logjam in their outfield. Mallex Smith is coming off a down year and Bloom has a history with him in Tampa Bay. Good enough for me.
I hate this at least as much as you do, but it’s Mookie Betts. The Braves are showing they’re in on this season, and that means they have at least one big splash coming. I really hope this isn’t it, but I’m also very scared it is.
This one really stumped me, but there’s one thing I know about the Nationals and it’s that they are not afraid to spend on pitching. If they end up losing Stephen Strasburg, they could look at David Price as a worthy investment assuming they don’t have to give much up. I think they’d be right and smart to do it, too.
The Phillies need a winning season in 2020 and probably a playoff berth. They should be very aggressive this winter and willing to take on contracts. That puts them in play for one of the Price/Eovaldi duo if they miss on the big guns in free agency, and they could be a potential player for Bradley Jr., too. Going the other way, Cesar Hernández makes sense for the Red Sox if he gets squeezed out of the lineup there.
New York Mets
The Mets have needed an outfielder my whole life it seems. They are once again in that market. I certainly don’t see them making the plunge for Betts, but Bradley Jr. seems to be about their speed.
The rest of the division will be buyers this winter, but the Marlins are still very much not. They don’t have a ton that could help the Red Sox while also feasibly being available in trade, but Caleb Smith could fit that bill. He’s not the most exciting pitcher, but the Red Sox need at least one arm for the back half of their rotation and Smith fits that bill.
St. Louis Cardinals
This was the team with whom I had the most trouble, as there really isn’t a great match here. The best I could come up with is a scenario in which they find a way to trade Martinez, which I don’t anticipate. If they do, they could call about José Martinez, who is a very good hitter but really does not belong in the National League anymore.
The Brewers are a good team that is in desperate need of pitching. They’ve also shown an interest in going for it the last couple of years. You see where this is going, right? Price/Eovaldi.
The Cubs have been rumored to be shopping a bunch of their biggest names, including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber. So, naturally I have Albert Almora written here. Again, this is a potential Bradley Jr. replacement.
The Reds are a weird team. They really want to push in, but they don’t really have that much talent and are in a good division. Who am I to argue if they want to go for it, though. More teams should be doing that! Anyway, they currently have Nick Senzel projected to play center field with no real second baseman, and they could fix that by trading for Bradley Jr.
How about a trade with Ben Cherington for old time’s sake? The Pirates should be stripping everything they possibly can at this point, and that includes their relievers. Keone Kela, Kyle Crick and Michael Feliz could all be of interest to the Red Sox.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are loaded and have been the best regular season team in baseball for half a century now. Now they need to decide if they want to keep going down this path or start to shed some of their depth and get a little more real star power. If they decide on the latter, they could put together one of the few realistic and enticing packages for Betts.
We talked a few days ago about Robbie Ray reportedly being available, but that’s not who I have for the Red Sox. Nor is it any of their other rotation members. Instead, I’m going with Jake Lamb, who could play third base in a pinch while providing a left-handed counterpart for Michael Chavis and/or Bobby Dalbec and/or Sam Travis at first base.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants seem like they are maybe ready to sell but also maybe they aren’t? I don’t really know. If they’ll eat money Brandon Belt could be a really interesting change-of-scenery guy. Going the other way, Bradley Jr. would look great covering that outfield. Some sort of swap involving both could even be mutually beneficial! But again, I don’t really know the Giants’ plan right now.
The Rockies infield is in a very interesting position. The left side is clearly all set with Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, but the right is more in flux. They have Ryan McMahon, Daniel Murphy and Garrett Hampson for two spots as well as top prospect Brendan Rodgers right there as well. If they would be willing to move McMahon or Hampson — the latter can play first or second while the latter can player either middle infield spot — the Red Sox should listen.
San Diego Padres
And we end with another really tough one. Kirby Yates would be great, but I don’t think he’s going to be available unless they get blown away and the Red Sox aren’t really blowing anyone away with prospects. I think I look at their catching situation as one that could help in Boston with three young catchers in San Diego looking for playing time. One of Austin Allen or Austin Hedges could be available this winter.