By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
So if you’re the Red Sox, when it comes to the value of your assets on the trade market, here’s the problem: Mookie Betts is a sensational talent, but he is one year from free agency; David Price can still pitch when healthy, but he has three years and $96 million remaining on his contract; J.D. Martinez is one of the best hitters in the game, but he’s viewed as a designated hitter and he can opt out of his contract after each of the next two seasons.
The options may be limited for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, which means the Red Sox may have to get creative.
With that in mind, here are a few creative ways the Red Sox may be able to package together some assets and move some payroll to make some of their players more appealing to potential trade partners:
Package Eduardo Rodriguez with Mookie Betts in a trade. Crazy? Maybe. Rodriguez has been one of the most consistent winners in baseball over the last two years and is still relatively cheap ($9.5 million) for a team that needs younger, inexpensive pitching. So why trade him? Because Rodriguez’ value may be at an all-time high and pairing him with Mookie might inspire a club to sacrifice front-end prospects. With that contract and impending free agency, Mookie alone probably won’t get it done.
Package Andrew Benintendi with David Price, Chris Sale or Nathan Eovaldi. Obviously, this is the same formula in reverse – an older, highly-priced pitcher and a relatively young, cost-controlled position player. If the Red Sox can pull off something like this – and they still might have to eat some of Price’s contract – it might free up the payroll to keep Betts and Martinez in a lineup that already has Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. And we all know Price doesn't really want to be here.
Package Christian Vazquez with Jackie Bradley, Betts or one of the higher-priced starting pitchers. Look, we’re offering up ideas here. Vazquez had a breakout year offensively and his value may never be higher. He’s also extremely affordable at a position where there aren’t many good offensive players. Do the Sox really need him? I say no. And we all know how much the pitchers love Sandy Leon.
Again, let’s remember that the Red Sox are in a fairly tight predicament at the moment. They want/need to shed about $30 million in payroll (maybe more) while addressing needs at first base, second base and on the mound. They have a thin farm system. The Sox need to move money while getting young players back – which is typically what small-market teams do. But they want to contend at the time.
There’s going to be some blood-letting this offseason, folks. You’ve got to give if you want to get.