The Red Sox are winners of two whole games in a row as of this writing, but that obviously won’t change things for the deadline. Even with the pair of victories they sit at 8-18 with a 10.2 percent chance of making the postseason according to FanGraphs and an 8.8 percent chance according to Baseball Prospectus. All of that is to say: They will be sellers at this year’s deadline. We still have no idea what the deadline is actually going to look like this year given everything happening in the world, but if there is an active market the Red Sox should be among a small class of sellers.
That puts the team in an interesting position to maximize on the value of some of their players. This is a team that doesn’t really get this chance very often, and also one that is in desperate need for additional depth on the farm. That could very well tempt someone into trading a player who wouldn’t be on the table most other years, an idea which leads us to this week’s Roundtable question. We went simple this week, asking who should be untouchable. Note that I included the caveat that this is for all reasonable deals. Yes everyone is available if another team loses their mind and offers elite talent — think San Diego offering Fernando Tatís Jr. or something similarly unlikely — but that’s not going to happen. So, realistically, who is untouchable?
Rafael Devers is the only player that is truly untouchable for me. In addition to being our most valuable asset in a post-Mookie Betts world, he’s also struggling (ed. note: This was written Monday night), and may be at his lowest point in value. It makes no sense to trade him at a low value if we’re trading him at all. As much as I don’t want us to trade Xander Bogaerts, even he makes much more sense as a trade option due to the opt-outs in his contract.
Devers is a player the Red Sox should learn from the Mookie debacle on. Extend him if they can. And if they try, don’t consistently offer 100 million dollars less than he is worth every year. Make competitive offers, or don’t bother.
For me, the only untouchable on this Red Sox team is Rafael Devers. Xander Bogaerts is a very close second, but it’s likely he opts out in two years when guys like Lindor, Correa, etc reset the shortstop market. Ideally, I want the Sox to be rebuilding around Devers and Bogaerts, but you can’t help but at least take offers for someone as potentially lucrative as Xander in that situation. Outside of that, everyone else should be on the table. I definitely want Workman to be dealt, and would also like to see Vázquez shopped around.
Dave Dombrowski’s spending spree left the Red Sox on the hook for a few massive salaries and staring at a nearly empty farm system when Chaim Bloom took over. And the regression from 2018 to 2019 to 2020 shows off the worst of it. But with Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers there’s no reason to give up for long. Christian Vázquez is signed for another year and has an option for 2022. Chris Sale could be back strong for the second half in 2021 (along with Eduardo Rodriguez) and Nathan Eovaldi has shown flashes of promise. Alex Verdugo isn’t going anywhere either and is making a name for himself. And unless someone, for some reason, offers even better prospects in return anyone left on the farm is better off staying in Boston than sent out for a different prospect. Andrew Benintendi...isn’t someone to trade at the deadline. If he’s a “change of scenery” project for someone who thinks they can find that 20-20 season again, wait for winter (and, uh, try to fix him at Fenway instead). This isn’t a whole team, but it’s a good core, with a star in Xander and a developing star in Devers at the heart.
Michael Chavis may have struck out five times the other day but he could play first or second with pop for a lot of teams. Jackie Bradley Jr. is a superb defender - any playoff team wants to have a center fielder like him in the mix. And of course the Sox should keep J.D. Martinez - someone with a game-changing bat - but they might be overwhelmed with an offer.
For me, the only two untouchable players are Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Not only is Bogaerts an amazing baseball player but he leadership skills are, dare I say, close to David Ortiz level? The team also gave him a long-term contract and even with the down season it doesn’t seem like he wants to leave. As much as Devers has struggled to begin this season, he is not the player you trade when you are looking to re-tool or rebuild. He is the type of player you build around.
On the active MLB roster, there are really only two correct answers from an objective standpoint: Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Bogaerts is one of the best shortstops in the game, racking up nearly seven fWAR last season. At 27 years old, he still has a huge chunk of his prime left. Meanwhile, Devers hasn’t turned 24 yet and although he has had a slow start to this season, he’s been turning it on of late (148 wRC+ in his last 32 plate appearances before Thursday), reminding us of his potential to be a cornerstone of the lineup for another decade.
If the fact that Bogaerts and Devers are both legitimate superstars near the beginning of their primes wasn’t enough for the callous team control aficionados, Bogaerts is just starting a six-year deal and Devers isn’t eligible for free agency until 2024.
There are some arguments to be made for a few rising young guys who have flashed potential but not yet proven to be superstars (Michael Chavis, Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo) and my own fanhood and sentimentality will never let me endorse trading Jackie Bradley Jr., but I could see the logic behind those moves, particularly with Bradley and Benintendi. Similarly, J.D. Martinez has been exceptional for Boston, but he turned 33 today and he can opt out of his deal at any time. I can’t imagine he would want to stick around for a major rebuild, and that looks like what the Red Sox are going to need.
Speaking of a rebuild, if we look past the MLB roster, I would hope the Red Sox would be conservative with prospects, but other than maybe Jeter Downs, I’m not sure they have anyone that is so can’t miss that they couldn’t be included in a deal.
After that, I think everyone else should be on the table.
I’ll put it simply, if the Red Sox trade Xander Bogaert I will lay siege to Fenway Park in a manner that will make the storming of the Bastille look like toddlers running towards a swing set. I would also be pretty confused if the Sox trade Devers or Verdugo, but after the Mookie debacle and already having Bogaerts locked into a team-friendly deal, trading him would be bonkers. Those are the key three I would say are reasonably untouchable, I would probably add Casas, Downs, and Wong because so much emphasis was put on rebuilding the farm and they have six years of control (likely seven with service time manipulation, because that’s low cost in action baby), but overall, its a short list of “untouchables”
Xander Bogaerts. I’ve said it on Twitter and I’ll say it here: I think management is going to use this disaster of a season as an excuse to parlay into a rebuild. I don’t think that’s necessary and I think it would be one of the biggest crimes in the history of the franchise. They already traded Mookie, please don’t trade Xander. But, I can see the line of thinking: the farm system is terrible and there’s no path to being a “sustainable contender” because they failed to extend and traded Mookie (who I thought was hellbent on reaching free agency? You can cite a global pandemic all you want but he signed the extension.) Bogaerts is on a good contract, but it’s not a Jose Quintana level of ROI so he’s not going to command the level of return that Quintana brought. In this moment, teams value for cost certainty and years of control, not talent. The proper course should be to sell the rentals and get what you can even though it won’t be much and retool for next year.
Chaim Bloom said it best: Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts should stay put. But they’re not the only ones. Christian Vazquez is too important to move. Alex Verdugo, obviously, isn’t going anywhere. Some of the minor leaguers who are close to the show — Jeter Downs, Bobby Dalbec, Triston Casas — are basically seeing the roster get cleared out for their arrivals, so there’s no point in dealing them. That’s probably all. That means, yes, Chris Sale is available. As is Eduardo Rodriguez. And — brace yourself — Zack Godley. And everyone else. Burn it down.
I’ll pretty much just echo what the obvious answer here was: It’s Bogaerts and Devers. They are the core of the Red Sox right now and they should be the core for at least the next half-decade, and probably a bit longer than that. Yes, Bogaerts has an opt-out coming and a no-trade that kicks in later this year, but also he’s Xander Bogaerts. That is not a reason to shop him. I would also add Alex Verdugo and Christian Vázquez to something very close to this list. Calling them “untouchable” may be a bit too far, but I think the organization is much better off with them around than them in another uniform.
Not counting players who are on the IL, the only three players I’d consider untouchable on this roster are Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Alex Verdugo. With Bogaerts the reasons are many, but in a nutshell he is the leader of the team both on and off the field. Over the past few years Bogaerts has continued to improve, turning into one of the best players in the American League. In addition to this he has filled the leadership void left by David Ortiz, David Price, and Mookie Betts. Trading him would be a massive mistake. He has already shown a willingness to work with ownership to stay with the team. Locking him up for the remainder of his career should be priority one for Chaim Bloom.
Rafael Devers is also untouchable even though his inconsistent defense can be maddening. In 2019, Devers posted 90 extra base hits at 22 years old. The only two players in history to eclipse that mark at that age are Joe DiMaggio and Alex Rodriguez. His ceiling is unbelievably high, coupled with his remaining team control and his relationship with Bogaerts he has the feel of a player that would be willing to sign an extension. Lastly, Verdugo, the prize of the Betts trade, has been dominating so far this summer. He has established himself as a fantastic leadoff hitter and defender. Verdugo shows no platoon splits against pitchers of either handedness and has an approach at the plate of a ten-year veteran. He is under team control for a long time, he won’t even reach his first arbitration year until 2022. Trading any of these players is much more likely to set the Red Sox back than it is set them up for future success