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Trade Bait: Finding New Homes for these Red Sox players

It's no secret that Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox have a lot of work to do this offseason. Some of it will come in the form of free agent signings, but other roster maneuvers will be made on the trade market. There has been a lot of focus around what player/positions Boston should be targeting. That being said, rival MLB franchises aren't looking to hand over assets for free. Boston will need to surrender something of value if they expect to receive any roster upgrades in return.

Some trades will involve prospects at the lower levels, but there are also young players who have reached the major league level yet don't seem to have an obvious fit in Boston as the roster is currently constructed. This post is a review of which Red Sox players (not named Rafael Devers) could be moved this winter, and where they might find themselves come Opening Day, if not in Boston.

Bobby Dalbec

This is a classic change-of-scenery candidate who should be appealing to some small market club in need of cheap corner infield depth. Would the Red Sox be selling low on a former top 100 prospect who hit 6 bombs in his first 8 MLB games? Possibly, but his tenure in Boston has yielded inconsistent results, and it might be in everyone's best interest to move on. He probably won't bring back much in a standalone trade, and he might only move the needle slightly in a larger package. In other words, he's not the first or even the second piece of a potential Sean Murphy or Pablo Lopez deal. Still, clearing a 40-man roster spot and giving Bobby D a fresh start somewhere else in exchange for an interesting arm or a toolsy position player at the lower minor league levels makes sense for both the player and the team in this scenario.

Potential fits: Oakland, Miami, Colorado, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington, Milwaukee

Jarren Duran

Everything stated above about Dalbec basically applies to Duran, except that he's a left handed outfielder whose game is almost entirely predicated on speed, as opposed to a right handed first baseman whose game is almost entirely predicated on power. Neither defends well or gets on base at a high enough clip to suggest an everyday starter is lurking underneath the surface, but both are talented enough to serve as bench players and young enough to perhaps even turn it around, though that opportunity will likely have to come in a different environment. Duran possesses a higher ceiling (theoretically) and therefore might have slightly more value to a suitor in a trade. Plus, with the dearth of major league outfielders on this roster, it's not inconceivable that Duran sticks around for another season. That being said, if I could flip him for a useful reliever or a top 10 prospect from a strong farm system, I would pull the trigger.

Potential fits: Kansas City, Texas, Oakland, Miami, Cincinnati, Washington

Alex Verdugo

I'll start by stating that I don't support the notion of trading Verdugo for multiple reasons. He is young and his salary should remain reasonable for at least a few more years, plus there's reason to believe he might not have reached his ceiling yet. He's produced at an average clip offensively with terrible luck. Boston's outfield is currently quite thin, and subtracting the one proven starter that doesn't serve as an emergency infielder would be counterproductive. He has plenty of personality, which can help a transitioning roster in a big market. Now having established my affinity for number 99, it should be noted that Alex Cora was one of his biggest critics at the end of last season, and his opinion carries more weight than mine. If another team values him *significantly* higher than Bloom and this front office currently does, then he shouldn't be untouchable. More importantly, if Verdugo is the vital piece to a blockbuster package for an ace starter or a stud closer with multiple years of control, Boston should be prepared to part with him. Dugie would be easier to replace than an All-Star caliber pitcher.

Potential fits: Kansas City, Texas, Oakland, Miami, Cincinnati, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago (AL)

Nick Pivetta

One of the most durable members of Boston's rotation over the past two years, Pivetta serves a useful role that should appeal to almost any team. Every franchise needs starters who can eat innings, and Pivetta does just that. He'll probably never make an All-Star team, much less sniff a Cy Young ballot, but the Canadian native entering his age-30 season has value as a depth piece. While I wouldn't be surprised or upset to see Pivetta back next year, Boston has enough starting pitchers to serve as depth. Even if Alex Cora transitions to a six-man rotation in order to accommodate the returns of Chris Sale and/or James Paxton, the Red Sox still have Bello claiming one spot, Garrett Whitlock potentially competing with Tanner Houck for another, and any presumptive addition(s) - whether that come in the form of a free agent like Kodai Senga, resigning Nate Eovaldi, or trading for a proven upgrade like Cleveland's Shane Bieber - would likely slot in towards the top of the order. At a certain point, the number of worthy rotation candidates will exceed the number of available openings. Maybe Pivetta becomes the long man out of the bullpen (an outcome I wouldn't mind seeing) but he's certainly not the type of player you want in a postseason rotation, which is where the Red Sox should be aiming. Once again, he's probably not going to fetch a huge return on his own, but in a creative deal with the right team, Pivetta can represent a useful trade chip. Part of the Josh Hader blockbuster involved a lesser (but still solid major league) LH relief pitcher going back to Milwaukee in the form of Taylor Rogers. Obviously there's a huge gap between Pivetta and a Corbin Burnes or a Brandon Woodruff, but add one of the other names listed above plus a couple prospects, and perhaps the fiscally conscious Brewers start listening. The White Sox also seem to be trending cheaper and their farm system is very thin at the moment. Perhaps a Pivetta-for-Giolito swap that includes a bevy of upper level prospects (and maybe even some cash) could help them kill two birds by cutting payroll and replacing a starter while bolstering their minor league depth in the process. Another front office willing to part with a top prospect for a starter plus some second tier prospects could get pulled into a 3-team trade with the Red Sox and, say, Miami. These are all speculative examples, but my point is that a backend starter who stays healthy and comes with a couple years of affordable team control has value. In Bloom's quest for upgrades on the trade market, Pivetta should be on the table.

Potential fits: Just about every team except Philadelphia and New York (AL)

Miscellaneous Starting Pitching Depth

Following up on my rant about Boston's abundance of "depth level" starting pitching, there are somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen young arms that have either debuted at the major league level or qualify as "knocking on the door" by virtue of Triple-A experience, age, and other factors. Some (such as Brandon Walter and Chris Murphy) are already eating up a 40-man roster spot while other Rule 5 eligible prospects (such as Thad Ward and Wikelman Gonzalez) were left unprotected. Between the aforementioned four, plus Bryan Mata, Josh Winkowski, Kutter Crawford, and Connor Seabold, there are more than enough young arms in Boston's system to serve as emergency rotation depth and still fill out a Triple-A rotation. (This doesn't even include Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck, who I envision as long term pieces of Boston's pitching staff, one way or another.) Some of these names will eventually find their way into a bullpen role that was probably inevitable. It's possible that the front office and/or the coaching staff is particularly fond of a subset of this group and considers one (or more) of them untouchable. However, there are circumstances preventing most (if not all) of them from having an immediate impact on the Boston Red Sox roster, other than being traded. Every team is always looking for pitching, and if one or more of these "depth" starters (Mata, Walter, Winkowski, Crawford, Seabold, Murphy, Ward, Gonzalez) moves the needle considerably in discussions for an outfielder, a catcher, an experienced bullpen piece, or another area of need, Bloom would be doing a disservice not to consider such a deal. As a good friend of mine (a diehard Braves fan) so eloquently phrased it recently, Boston's pitching staff contains "a lot of shit or get off the pot guys" and it's up to Bloom and his front office to determine which ones have an MLB future with the Red Sox versus which ones can be flipped for other future contributors.

Potential fits: Literally any of the 29 other MLB franchises

Conclusion

Pulling off a trade in fantasy football can often times present many challenges, so I can only imagine how hard it is to execute a deal between two MLB front offices. These exercises are much easier said than done, and one fan's opinion of a player doesn't necessarily mean that said player's time with his current team should be finished. However, imminent changes are coming, and from my perspective, these players might be best served as currency on the trade market once the hot stove heats up and free agent dominos begin to fall.

The good news for Red Sox fans, which has become abundantly clear to me as I type, is this: the trade capital that Bloom hasn't possessed in previous winters with the Red Sox is now available and at his disposal.