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Who should be on the table in trade talks?

Not quite everyone, but close.

New York Mets Vs. Boston Red Sox At Fenway Park Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Any hope the Red Sox may have had at making a run into the expanded postseason field pretty much went out the window at least this weekend against the Yankees, and those hopes likely faded before that if we’re being honest. This is, to put it simply, not a good baseball team. There are some external factors and injuries that helped exacerbate the issues, but whichever way you slice it they are not going anywhere in 2020.

There is still more to analyze in terms of what is happening on the field, but for the most part it is going to be in the view of 2021 and beyond. There’s just no avoiding that right now. In the more short-term, though, the trade deadline is exactly two weeks away as of this writing. I am still skeptical that there is going to be much movement at all this deadline for a variety of reasons, some of which I touched on here, but for this team’s sake we have to hope it’s a big deadline. The Red Sox are one of the few clear sellers on this market, and they have plenty of players who could be dealt.

In fact, Sam Kennedy has recently been on the record as saying there is nobody who is untouchable in trade talks. I think that’s probably technically true — if the Padres get drunk and offer Fernando Tatís Jr., then yes no one is untouchable, for example — but there are some players who they should not be actively looking to trade. But that thought process did get me thinking about how they should feel about trading, well, anybody.

With that in mind, I decided to rank the Red Sox roster in terms of who should be on the block over the next couple of weeks. We’ll start from the guys who should be basically untouchable all the way up to the guys they should definitely trade, giving extra credit to those who would bring more back. I’m also only including what I consider to be the core-ish pieces to this 2020 roster. If, like, Austin Brice gets some interest, then sure. Trade him. But he’s not included here.

Let’s hold on to these guys

Xander Bogaerts/Rafael Devers

I’m cheating right off the bat, because I couldn’t separate who I think is more untouchable of these two. Gun to my head I probably go Bogaerts despite Devers’s age advantage just because it feels like Bogaerts is a guy who needs to retire here. I know your rebuttal based on events from earlier this year, and I choose to ignore them. Either way, these two should be locked in for a long time and they should be at the center of whatever this rebuild turns out to be. Trading them would represent a total teardown, and that should not be the move.

Alex Verdugo

Verdugo isn’t quite on the level of the other two names here, but he’s clearly part of the long-term future of the team. He doesn’t have the track record of Bogaerts or Devers, but he’s had a nice start to his season and is showing some rare energy on this roster. Of course, we can’t talk about Verdugo without mentioning his off-the-field history in the Dodgers system, about which more information came out over the weekend. That’s not going to get him traded and he’s still a part of the future for better or for worse, but things like that certainly don’t make me cling to him as part of the future as guys like Devers and Bogaerts.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Christian Vázquez

The idea of trading Vázquez seems to be gaining more steam among Red Sox fans, and I really don’t get it. He’s scuffling a bit at the plate over the last week or two, but he’s still a top five-ish catcher in the game. I understand the age, but the idea I keep seeing is to trade Vázquez and sign J.T. Realmuto. For one thing, that assumes Realmuto makes it to free agency, which remains no sure thing. Additionally, why spend that money on a catcher who is similarly aging? Realmuto is obviously better, but there are more important spots to upgrade. I’m trying to keep Vázquez around for a long time if I’m the Red Sox.

Michael Chavis

Chavis seems out of place in this group and, well, he is. I’m not at all trying to tell anyone that he is close to the player as the other names on this list. That said, he’s a younger player who still has upside, and is also struggling right now. I’ve always been a Chavis believer and while I think there is an argument to trade him in the near future, I’d at least wait until the offseason and hope he can up his value a bit. Speaking strictly about the deadline, I see no value in trading him now.

Might as well listen

Mitch Moreland

Moreland is, on the surface, the exact kind of player a team like the Red Sox should be looking to move. They have corner prospects coming up or already up like Chavis and Bobby Dalbec, and a few years down the line in Triston Casas. Moreland is a platoon bat who is getting up in age, and having a good year. So they have to at least listen. That said, he’s a major, major leader in the clubhouse and a guy who works well with young players. If you’re getting basically nothing, there’s an argument to be made that you get more value having him around those young first basemen then whatever lottery ticket you’d get back.

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi is the best pitcher on this team, but he’s not pitching well enough to get back in return what most teams would get from their best pitcher. The plus side of dealing Eovaldi would be to get the rest of his contract off the books. The downside is, well, someone needs to start games moving forward. We don’t know what is going to happen with Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale won’t be ready until June at the earliest. That’s not reason enough to not trade Eovaldi, but it’s reason to not feel like you have to.

Andrew Benintendi

I think I’m more of a believer in Benintendi than most, but we’re at the point where a change of scenery has to be on the table. I think it’s more likely that any conversation regarding the left fielder would happen over the winter rather than right now, but at the very least putting out feelers in who could be interested is something to accomplish right now.

Matt Barnes

Blasphemy! Barnes, for me, is right on the edge of this tier and the final one, with the only reason to not push all the way in on these talks is his value being low right now and him having another year of control after this. Relievers have disproportionate trade value mid-season, and it could be smart to hope he’s better at next year’s deadline than this one. That said, team’s have seen what he can do so if someone is willing to mostly look past what he’s done this year, then it’s probably time to move on, as much as it may pain me personally.

Get those phones working

Heath Hembree

The only reason he’s last on this list is that I don’t really think he’d get all that much back. Which is not reason not to trade him, but just that he’s the least exciting trade piece in this tier and perhaps on this whole list. But he’s pitching well, so now is the time to make a deal.

Kevin Pillar

Pillar is one of the very few players playing above their expectation level for the Red Sox this year. Being able to play more against lefties than righties is certainly helping that production, but he has admittedly performed against whatever pitcher he has faced. He will likely get some bites at the deadline, but I’d be less willing to trade him than Bradley, and I don’t think you can really trade both unless you’re getting outfield help back in a trade you make this year. Pillar’s age could limit his return, and the leadership he’s shown this year could prove valuable as young players come up for the final month of the season.

Brandon Workman

I’m absolutely fascinated by what the rest of the league thinks about Workman. He was incredible last season and while some of it was unsustainable a whole lot of it was just him being dominant. However, he didn’t really have that kind of track record, and doesn’t really have the type of stuff you normally associate with a dominant late-inning arm. He’s also not looking quite as dominant this year. Since he’s coming up on free agency you have to shop him and someone will bite, but I’m really at a loss for how much they’d actually get.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Another upcoming free agent, Bradley would seem to be the most likely Red Sox player to be on the way out this summer. That is a bit sad considering how long he’s been here and what he’s done — such as roaming center field as well as anyone ever has and winning ALCS MVP on the way to a World Series — but we’ll get into the emotional part of it if/when it happens. He’s coming up on free agency and the Red Sox would have the short-term (Kevin Pillar) and long-term (Jarren Duran) replacements in house.

Martín Pérez

Pérez has been one of the biggest positive surprises on the roster this year, at least by results. Heading into Monday’s start against the Yankees, he has a 3.38 ERA over his first four starts and has looked very good after those initial two innings in which he was shelled. If someone wants to pay for him like that is remotely real, get it done. The argument with Eovaldi above about the team simply needing starting pitching still stands, but I’m still not much of a believer in this being sustainable from Pérez. Part of a successful trade deadline for a seller is finding the well-performing pieces who won’t stay on that level and getting as much as possible. Pérez, to me, fits that bill to a tee.

J.D. Martinez

It sucks putting Martinez at the very top of this list. He changed this offense is substantial ways in 2018, both because he was and is an incredible hitter but also because he’s basically a second hitting coach in the dugout. That said, he’s the best combination of talent that would come back in a trade with not being a part of the future. I don’t think Martinez is opting out this winter just because the market is going to be depressed, but with the NL trending toward a universal DH forever (perhaps as soon as making it permanent next year), the market is large for him and he can put a team over the top. The Red Sox know that first hand.