Red Sox’ deadline moves depend on Lowell


Jul 16, 2009

Red Sox' deadline moves depend on Lowell The Major League Baseball trade deadline is now just 15 days away.
With several marquee players on the market and plenty of teams still in
contention, the rumor mill is heating up.

In a four-part series, Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors will share his insights on potential deadline deals now that the first half of the season is over. Red Sox' deadline moves depend on LowellHere is Part IV of the epic deadline discussion (for Part I click here, for Part II click here and for Part III click here): Who is someone that would surprise you if they were
traded on July 31? Is there a player no one is expecting to get moved,
but who could wind up in a new uniform?

Ben Nicholson-Smith: We haven’t heard anything about Hank Blalock
in a month, but he’s an under-the-radar trade candidate this July. He
has 19 homers so far, and he feasts on right-handed pitching, so his
bat would appeal to offense-starved teams.

Blalock will hit free agency after the season, and because of prospects Chris Davis and Justin Smoak,
the Rangers have limited room for him next year. They could shop him to
try to obtain some of the relief help they’ve been seeking, but finding
the right match will be the biggest obstacle for Rangers GM Jon Daniels.

The Tigers could match Blalock with Marcus Thames to create a
fearsome platoon at DH, but they don’t have the relief depth to tempt
the Rangers, so a third team would probably have to become involved.

What about Takashi Saito? The Rangers could use him but Mike Lowell‘s about to return, so the Red Sox don’t need an extra bat.

The Braves appear to be a good match, as free agent-to-be Rafael Soriano makes $6.1 million, which matches up perfectly with Blalock’s $6.2 million contract. However, Casey Kotchman‘s a better defender than Blalock and has started to hit, so the Braves don’t need Blalock’s bat.

The Rangers don’t match up perfectly with any teams now, but they
have the depth to trade Blalock away and he has the power to appeal to
other teams. If they can obtain a solid reliever for him, we could see
a deal before the end of the month. Maybe Roy Halladay gets traded and maybe he
doesn’t, but at this point it looks like he will. After Halladay who do
you think will be the biggest name to get moved prior to the deadline?

Ben Nicholson-Smith: I don’t think the A’s will necessarily move Matt Holliday,
since the Reds may not be able to take on his salary and the Mets and
Braves may hesitate to give up much for a bat while they remain under
.500. Holliday hasn’t homered in over a month, so the demand isn’t as
high as expected and the A’s may just hold onto him, offer him
arbitration and collect top draft picks when he leaves as a free agent
after the season.

Instead, I expect Nick Johnson to be the biggest name traded
other than Halladay. Johnson’s a free agent after the season, but he
probably won’t place high enough under the Elias rankings system for
the Nats to receive compensation picks when he signs elsewhere. This means their chance to get something for Johnson probably disappears if they don’t trade him.

He’s a valuable commodity; his 52 walks place him seventh in the
league and he has a .305 average. He’s traditionally been a good
defender and is relatively affordable at $5.5 million. The Giants could
upgrade over slick-fielding first baseman Travis Ishikawa by
trading for Johnson, the better hitter. Whether it’s the Giants or
somebody else, Johnson figures to be available, since it’s the surest
way for the Nats to get something of value back. What moves, if any, will the big three teams in the
AL East make over the coming weeks? It’s hard to imagine all of them
standing pat with the division pretty open for the taking for whichever
team can get that extra boost before July 31.

Ben Nicholson-Smith: The Rays will probably have to rely on minor league reinforcements, since they’re not about to add payroll. But they have considerable depth in the minors, so they can call on major league-ready players like Matt Joyce, Reid Brignac and Wade Davis if a player gets injured or stops performing well.

The Red Sox have to see how Lowell looks before deciding whether they need depth at the corner infield positions. A Garrett Atkins-for-Saito swap could work for the Red Sox and Rockies if Lowell suffers a setback, and the Red Sox have an eye on Scott Rolen just in case.

Like the Red Sox, the Yankees have to see how an injured player
looks before deciding which players to target. Until they know how much
Chien-Ming Wang can contribute, they won’t know how aggressively
to pursue starting pitching. They could use another reliever and even
if they don’t want to part with the prospects it would take to acquire Heath Bell or Chad Qualls, they could deal for an arm like Russ Springer or John Grabow more easily.

Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox could still go after Halladay.
He’d make either team the favorite to win the division, but he would
cost $22 million dollars in salary before next year and a fortune in


Thanks again to Ben Nicholson-Smith and don’t forget to check out his work at MLB Trade Rumors.

Photo courtesy of STATS*

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