The Boston Red Sox added Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in what looks like the beginning of an eventful offseason. It's the latest series of moves in what has been a major retooling for the Sox. A year after winning the World Series, Boston imploded last season. Injuries and poor play hampered them from the beginning of the year, and at the trade deadline, they were definitely sellers. By the end of the year, Clay Buchholz was the only remaining pitcher from the Opening Day rotation. After a disappointing finish, it was clear that the Red Sox would be active this offseason with hopes of competing in 2015.
The signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval certainly send the Sox back to respectability. In fact, they are more than respectable: While 2015 projections are certainly in their infancy, the Sox project as the best team in the American League. That might seem improbable, especially with a rotation which features the ultra-fragile Buchholz as its ace. However, the Sox have a strong group of position players. As things stand, there's a logjam in the outfield and the infield; thus, the stage has been set for the Sox to make at least one significant trade. Here's a look at some players that could be moved.
Yoenis Cespedes was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for two months of Jon Lester. The 29-year-old slugger is entering the final season of his contract, and is set to earn $10.5 million. He would be attractive trade bait for several teams, especially with the demand for right-handed power. Cespedes has mashed 71 home runs in his first three big league seasons, and possesses eye-popping clout, as evidenced by his back-to-back Home Run Derby wins. With Hanley Ramirez set to play in left, it appears that a Cespedes trade is imminent.
The Seattle Mariners will pursue Cespedes, and the Cincinnati Reds could be a good trade fit as well. Seattle has several interesting pieces, including talented but erratic young pitchers in Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. They might not be willing to part with several years of team control in exchange for a player who will enter free agency next offseason. The Reds have starting pitchers in Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto who are playing out their respective contracts, and their outfield play was abysmal last year. Expect Cespedes to get moved, but he shouldn't command a huge return. Either a veteran in the last year of their contract or a middling prospect seems reasonable.
Mike Napoli could also be on the move. He fits the right-handed power hitter mold as well, though he dipped to 17 home runs last year. Moving Napoli might give Allen Craig more playing time at first base, and Daniel Nava could fill in as well. The 33 year-old Napoli has battled injuries, and he's set to make $16 million in 2015. Outfielder Shane Victorino could also be moved as he's out of a starting job after the signing of Rusney Castillo and the emergence of Mookie Betts. Cespedes and Napoli won't bring back big returns, but several clubs will be making inquiries.
It's only a slim chance, but second year player Xander Bogaerts might play elsewhere too. As of now, the Sox are set on having him play short in 2015, but the acquisition of Ramirez -- who has spent most of his career at short -- just might change their minds. Bogaerts had a disappointing first full season, batting just .240/.297/.362 in 144 games. He was shuffled between short and third, and after hitting .304/.397/.438 in the first two months of the season, he went in an extended swoon at the plate. From June through August the young infielder hit a woeful .161/.206/.254. September was much more promising, as Bogaerts hit .313 and clubbed four home runs, but on the whole it was a poor season. Still, Bogaerts only just turned 22, and he has five years of team control left.
He's a promising player, and one that could certainly net the Red Sox an ace pitcher in return. If the Sox are looking into moving Bogaerts, he could at least be a conversation starter in a deal for top notch pitchers such as Stephen Strasburg or Chris Sale. The Phillies are actively shopping Cole Hamels, but with four years and $103 million left on his contract, the Sox won't move Bogaerts for him unless the Phillies sweeten the pot. It would be very surprising if Boston ends up moving Bogaerts, but if they're serious about getting an ace in a trade, Bogaerts is their most attractive piece.
Finally, don't count the Sox out on signing Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields. They made the mistake of lowballing Lester on extension offers last season, and it's going to cost them at least $20 million per year to retain his services this time around. Scherzer would command a similar price tag. It's already been a busy offseason for the Boston Red Sox, and more moves are set to come.
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Stats courtesy of Fangraphs
Chris Moran is a former college baseball player at Wheaton College and current third-year law student at Washington University in St. Louis. He's also an assistant baseball coach at Wash U. In addition to Beyond The Box Score, he contributes at Gammons Daily. He went to his first baseball game at age two. Follow him on Twitter@hangingslurves.