Mike’d Up: Boston’s farm system is about to Bloom

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Boston Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts hits an RBI single against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

In the days approaching the MLB trade deadline every year I do essentially the same things: Begrudgingly switch from normal Twitter to TweetDeck, switch on Twitter notifications and yell every time my team makes a trade I don’t like.  

That being said, let’s look at what each of these Boston Red Sox players could fetch on this distorted market. None of these would make me scream out my window at Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom – who has already done particularly well this deadline so far amidst a probable major sell-off.  

Also, disclaimer, by the time this publishes some of these players could have already been dealt. I have no control over that, unless Bloom sees this and hires me right away – I don’t have anything currently lined up after graduation, Chaim, just saying. 

At this point, the Red Sox are in dire straits. They have no pitchers that are certainties to give you more than four innings. Chris Sale is likely going to miss time next year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Eduardo Rodriguez came down with COVID-19 and had heart problems stemming from the sickness, unfortunately. Then there’s Nathan Eovaldi, the $17 million per year man who is seemingly always injured. Not great. 

I’ve separated each player into tiers: should be traded, should listen to offers and should not be traded. Not every player on the roster is listed, just players that would have some sort of trade value.  

Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. The Red Sox won 9-7. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Should be traded 

RHP Matt Barnes, OF Jackie Bradley Jr., RHP Ryan Brasier, INF Michael Chavis, INF Jose Peraza, OF Kevin Pillar and RHP Marcus Walden. 

There are quite a few players on this list and my mindset toward essentially all of them is take what you can get. Even if it’s a low-level prospect, international bonus pool space or just salary relief, just do it. 

Of the players on this list, I’d say Barnes has the most value.  

Barnes, a UConn baseball alumnus, has really struggled this season. His K% is down by over 12% from last season, with his strikeout to walk ratio cratering from 2.89 to 1.60. He is walking nearly seven batters per nine this year as well. He has been bad, for sure, but he can be very good.  

Prior to this season, Barnes posted K/9 rates in the 14 to 15-plus range for the past two seasons, according to FanGraphs. He has always struggled with walks, but he misses bats. He also posted a better than league average ERA every year from 2016 to 2019 while pitching in more than 60 games in each of those seasons. His velocity is down about a mile-per-hour on each of his pitches, which is common for a pitcher in his 30’s. 

Barnes could fetch a mid-level prospect or two, since the Colorado Rockies just gave the Baltimore Orioles two of their top-20 prospects and a player to be named later for set-up man Mychal Givens. Givens also has another year of control, like Barnes, but he has been markedly better this season, with a 1.38 ERA through 13 innings

Barnes’ name hasn’t been mentioned much since Bloom traded Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies, but I could see him get packaged with another arm like Brasier or Walden to get a better return. 

Pillar could fetch an okay prospect since he has performed consistently well the past two seasons, but he will be a free agent this offseason. He also made some not-so-great comments on the boycotts from last week and was suspended in 2017 for calling another player a homophobic slur. He later clarified his comments, but it’s hard to believe his clarification was earnest from my point of view. 

For the rest of the names on this list, get whatever you can from them. Bradley Jr. is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, but he has already had his hot streak for this season. Michael Chavis has a 43.5% strikeout rate through 69 plate appearances and makes me upset every time I see him come to the plate, so please, Chaim, please. 

Boston Red Sox’s Christian Vazquez singles to right field against Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Alex Cobb during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Should listen to offers 

OF Andrew Benintendi, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, OF/DH J.D. Martinez, LHP Martin Perez, LHP Chris Sale and C/INF Christian Vazquez. 

This section of my list is largely the players who could be traded, but probably won’t be. They should definitely listen to offers on them, but I’d be surprised if any get moved.  

The price tag for Christian Vazquez will be high, as it should be. He should only be moved for a top-100 prospect or more, in my opinion, which I don’t see happening right now considering the shortened season.  

The Red Sox have apparently been talking to the Tampa Bay Rays about Vazquez, for their arsenal of young pitching talent, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. They are asking for a “crazy” return for Vazquez, according to Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal.  

The 30-year-old is under team control through 2022 at a steep discount – $6.25 million in 2021 and a club option for $7 million in 2022. He has been one of the premier offensive catchers in baseball the past two seasons, with the third highest fWAR and OPS among qualifying catchers. 

Eovaldi, J.D. Martinez and Chris Sale are all in the high-salary, low-production category this season. Since they are all being paid more than a team may be willing to spend with no fans in attendance this season, I would say they will stay put in Boston.  

Both Eovaldi and Sale are currently injured, so I would chalk those up as extremely unlikely, but if you can offload their contracts onto a team for whatever reason – do it if the price is right.  

I wouldn’t be happy to see Sale go, he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy, but I would understand it since he’s aging and making quite a bit of money. He would be firmly in the core section without his red flags, but alas. 

I have a feeling Martinez is as good as gone, whether that be at the deadline or this offseason. He doesn’t seem to be having a lot of fun right now and I wouldn’t be super surprised if he gets traded, but I don’t see them getting enough to move him right now.  

Martin Perez was the fifth starter coming into this season and is literally the only starter they have left who deserves to be in the major leagues right now. He could fetch something decent on the market, but someone has to pitch, right? 

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers eyes a ground ball hit by Baltimore Orioles’ Cedric Mullins during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Baltimore. Devers was unable to field the ball and Mullins was credited with a single. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Should not be traded 

SS Xander Bogaerts, 3B Rafael Devers, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez and OF Alex Verdugo. 

I shouldn’t have to explain this one. These four players are the core of this team and should not be moved for any package that doesn’t include Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto or a young stud like Walker Beuhler or Jack Flaherty. Obviously, none of those trades would happen, so they shouldn’t be moved.  

It shouldn’t even be a debate, come on. 

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