Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe has a piece up where he suggests that changes in Fenway may go far beyond the manager and GM position. He details how little durability and innings they currently have in their starting rotation, how thin the Sox pitching depth is in the upper levels of their farm system, suggesting some big changes may be forthcoming. He writes:
What all this means is that the Red Sox need to aggressively explore the trade market for front-line pitching, something that may require them to part with any number of valuable assets depending on the return.
Yes, Beckett should be able to get them something. But if the Sox can get something valuable in return – and we’re talking a true front-of-the-rotation starter – then they must also consider moving Jacoby Ellsbury, who might very well be the most valuable player of the American League.
With all due respect to Ellsbury fans, do the math. Ellsbury is eligible for free agency in 2013 and, given his agent (Scott Boras) and history with the Red Sox’ medical staff, seems destined to depart following the 2013 season. His trade value will never be higher than it is right now. If the Sox can get something substantial for him – and that is a very big qualifier – they must explore it now to benefit both the short-term and the long.
Masserotti has them considering some bold moves, and whether he’s speculating or getting that directly from someone highly placed in the Red Sox organization I think his take is well founded. Since John Henry bought the team in 2002 they’ve attempted two major shakeups following disappointing seasons. They tried to do it in 2003 (the last time they fired their manager) with deals in place of Manny Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez (Texas) and Nomar Garciaparra for Magglio Ordonez (White Sox) only to have the MLBPA shoot them down. They settled for a blockbuster trade for Curt Schilling, signing A’s Closer Keith Foulke and trading Garciaparra the following July. They shook things up again after the team quit in 06, acquiring Dice-K, JD Drew, Julio Lugo, Hideki Okijima and promoting Dustin Pedroia. These shakeups haven’t been cheap. From 03-04 they expanded payroll by 27 million, and from 06-07 they expanded payroll by 23 mil pushing themselves to the outer reaches of the luxury tax. Its also worth noting they won the World Series each of the following years.
Beckett will have value, despite the big contract extension. He’s scheduled to earn 15.75 mil over the next 3 years, and he’s 31 years old. He would have to go to contender in a midsize to big market, and the Sox will be looking for an OF to replace Drew and/or Ellsbury in return. Jacoby Ellsbury will have tremendous value if he hits the open market. He’s coming off a career year where he’s an MVP candidate and is in just his 2nd year of arbitration this offseason. Fangraphs has his value pegged at a whopping 42.5 mil for 2011 while being paid just 2.4 mil. He’s due for a big arb raise, and is under team control for the next two years. But if you like selling high and think he won’t re-sign given the issues he’s had in the clubhouse and with the Boston medical staff, now’s a great time to max out on his value. He literally could get you anyone else in baseball that’s potentially available.
We all know Boston is a baseball-obsessed town with a rabid fan base. They also charge some of the highest ticket prices in baseball. Given that town, that fan base and those ticket prices, its very hard to go into next year with the same group that quit in 2011. Should be a busy off season up in Beantown, and I wouldn’t count them out for anyone, be it free agent or trade.
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