But maybe Chaim Bloom’s best course of action as Red Sox chief baseball officer involves the trade market, where several high-upside players could be available in the coming months.
ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle this week suggested “one bold offseason move” for each Major League Baseball club. His recommendation for the Red Sox: Trade for Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton.
Doolittle floated Jarren Duran, one of Boston’s top prospects, as a potential trade chip. Of course, there’s been no indication the Red Sox would trade Duran, whom the organization obviously thinks very highly of, despite an up-and-down big league debut in 2021, but it’d be understandable if the Twins were interested in the 25-year-old outfielder with blazing speed.
For now, let’s focus on Buxton.
“Yes, the Red Sox need to add pitching and could use another big bat,” Doolittle wrote in a piece published Wednesday on ESPN.com. “But one could argue that the quickest way to improve Boston’s outlook is to upgrade the defense. Dealing for Buxton would be a game-changer in that regard.”
It’s unclear what type of trade package it would take for Boston to land Buxton, a former top prospect who turns 28 in December and is entering the final year of his contract with Minnesota. Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012, has flashed elite potential at times but has struggled to stay healthy.
Buxton earned a Gold Glove in 2017 after playing in a career-high 140 games. He’s never played in more than 92 games in any other season, including 2021, when he posted monster production before once again dealing with injuries that limited him to 61 contests.
Here’s more from Doolittle:
For Boston, it’s a gamble on immediate upside. If Buxton can stay healthy for 140 or 150 games, he’s a potential MVP candidate. The problem, of course, is that he hasn’t been able to do that, save for 2017. If the Red Sox could keep him upright, they are adding the certainty of what Buxton is right now when healthy in exchange for what they hope Durran will become.
Yeah, Red Sox fans probably will hate this suggestion, but we’re being bold, right? For Boston, the gamble is worth it, with one caveat: They would need to know what Buxton’s asking price is for an extension and be willing to meet that price (or get close enough to get it done). You’d need to know that this is a long-term partnership.
Buxton batted .306 with 19 home runs, 32 RBIs, nine stolen bases and a 1.005 OPS in 254 plate appearances in 2021. The Twins could work out a long-term extension with the super-athletic outfielder, keeping him in Minnesota for the foreseeable future, but the sides reportedly haven’t made progress on a deal, which might pave the way for an offseason trade.
If so, the Red Sox at least should inquire about the asking price. Because while there’s obvious risk involved, given Buxton’s injury history, there’s no denying his ceiling and the impact he could have patrolling center field in Boston.