Red Sox

Red Sox can afford to wait on trade despite June swoon


Red Sox can afford to wait on trade despite June swoon

If you're Dave Dombrowski, the temptation to do something dramatic -- NOW! -- must be great.

The Red Sox are in the midst of massive June swoon -- 5-8 this month, and 8-11 since May 25 -- and the starting rotation is to blame. The organizational depth is virtually non-existent with no remaining options beyond bullpen mop-up man Clay Buchholz redux.

All of this is plays out against a backdrop of a division very much up for grabs.

But there are dangers to making a pre-emptive strike.

First, any pitcher made available weeks before the non-waiver trade deadline should be regarded with more than a little suspicion.

Most general managers of teams expected to be in sell-mode are waiting to strike, hopeful that the closer it gets to Aug. 1, the more desperate pitching-starved teams will be.

Sure, some arms could be pried loose, but they're likely to be highly suspect, like James Shields. After the San Diego Padres owner threw a public tantrum, the Padres shipped Shields to the White Sox for a couple of prospects. The Padres even took back a significant portion of the pitcher's remaining salary.

The result to date? Two starts, covering all of seven innings and 13 earned runs on 17 hits. His WHIP is a breathtaking 3.286.

So, yes, you can trade for starting pitching in June. But don't expect much.

Secondly, the earlier Dombrowski moves, the more expensive the return. If a free agent-to-be is obtained, the club doing the selling is going ask for more for a 3 1/2 month rental than a two-month rental. Instead of getting 10 or so starts from such a pitcher, the acquiring team would get approximately 17 or 18.

Dombrowski has already got a delicate balancing act. Because the American League lacks a dominant uber-team like the Chicago Cubs in the National League, the team which makes the best summer acquisition could be thrust into the role of pennant favorite.

For a contending team like the Red Sox, an impact starter could represent the difference between gaining a wild-card spot and getting to the World Series. But the price will be steep.

Does Dombrowski really want to sacrifice Yoan Moncada or Andrew Benintendi or Rafael Devers or Anderson Espinoza -- or some combination therein -- for an all-in approach in 2016?

It's highly unlikely the Sox can obtain the impact pitcher they need without a high cost of prospects in return. Got your sights set on, say, Sonny Gray? You'd better be willing to part with two or three of the aforementioned prospects -- at minimum.

The time to make those sort of decisions, however, isn't now. While it's difficult to watch Eduardo Rodriguez struggle and there's great uncertainty surrounding Elias, the Sox can afford to wait some.

The division is full of flawed teams, and neither the Orioles nor the Blue Jays have the combination of top prospects and economic flexibility to be as active and aggressive as the Red Sox.

Rodriguez is more likely than not to figure some things out as he continues to build arm strength. And if Elias doesn't pitch like an ace, well, how many teams have No. 5 starters who do?

Better to wait and make a more informed decision in another five weeks or so. The Red Sox' recent downturn has been made worse by a concurrent hitting slump. When the Sox bats stir again, the club will be capable of winning some games 6-5 and 7-6, instead of, as they've done in the last week, losing games 5-1 and 7-4.

It may not seem it after the last few nights, but the Red Sox are in a position to be patient. Behaving otherwise could mean a steep price -- both now and in the long-term.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter @Sean_McAdam.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."