Five Second Basemen Red Sox Could Target In Trade Market This Winter

There's a lot of unknowns as the hot stove season begins


Nov 8, 2022

After a few unseasonably warm days, the autumnal chill has returned to New England, and the days are getting shorter every day. The Red Sox apparently have taken notice and have fired up the hot stove.

Boston is one of the more pivotal teams in the entire sport this winter by virtue of having so many unanswered questions. Not only does chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom have decisions to make on a handful of free agents, there are also roster players who could either be elevated to take on greater roles or find themselves in trade talks.

No situation is bigger and seemingly more fluid than Xander Bogaerts’ free agency. The shortstop opted out and will test the market. The Sox say they want him back, but if they can’t sign him, they already have a Plan B, according to one report. It’s possible the Sox could slide Trevor Story back over to shortstop and dive into the trade market for a second baseman.

If they do that, here are five players of varying skill and experience who could be options.

Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
The Bloom connection is obvious with the executive’s past in Tampa Bay. Perhaps the price to acquire a player like Lowe is slightly diminished after a forgettable 2022 season. Lowe played in just 65 games, hitting .221 with a .691 OPS as a one-win player. However, if he can become the player he was in 2020 and 2021 again, the value is obvious. The 28-year-old finished in the top 10 in MVP voting each year, posting a 143 OPS+ (100 being league average) while hitting 53 home runs in just 205 games, a rate that equals 42 home runs over 162 games. His contract is extremely team-friendly, especially if he’s that player. Lowe is under team control through 2026 for a maximum of $36 million total with team options for both 2025 and 2026. Given the uncertainty and the in-division element, finding a middle ground on a deal between the two clubs might be a little too difficult to get something done.

Luis Rengifo, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels should be open to anything and everything this winter, so they almost make the list by default. The 25-year-old Rengifo is an interesting player, whom the Angels almost traded to the Dodgers in a Joc Pederson deal that fell through. He’s also another player with whom Bloom should be familiar; Tampa Bay acquired Rengifo from the Mariners in 2017 before eventually trading him to the Angels. By Fangraphs’ WAR, Rengifo was a top-half second baseman in 2022 as a 1.6-WAR player. He hit .264 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in 127 games. The offensive profile might disqualify him from the conversation, though. He swings at everything. He had a 3.3% walk rate that was in the bottom 1 percentile of the league. What’s remarkable, though, is his strikeout rate was quite low. He puts the ball in play a ton — he just doesn’t hit it very hard. He’s under contract, arbitration-eligible, through the 2025 season. This certainly wouldn’t be the flashiest Red Sox move, but as part of the undercard for a much bigger main event, it could make some sense.

Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
Let’s get the band back together, shall we? There’s no indication Colorado is looking to move the former No. 3 overall pick, but the initial report is that the Red Sox were inquiring with teams about the possibility of moving starters. If Boston calls and makes a solid offer for Story’s former double-play partner, the Rockies have to listen given their perpetual state of neutral. Rodgers hit .266 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs, while sitting in the 80th percentile of hard-hit percentage in 2022. He doesn’t have a great arm but is otherwise a sound defensive second baseman ranking in the 82nd percentile in outs above average. He’s under team control through 2025, too. Given his pedigree as a high draft pick and potential to really take the next step, the price could be high, especially for a Rockies team that once again needs young pitching.

Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks opted against trading Marte last winter, instead giving him a contract extension, and that ultimately be a costly if not understandable decision. The value and buzz don’t seem nearly as high this winter, but he’s still a valuable player who could bring back some valuable assets. He took a noticeable dip in 2022 where his expected batting average plummeted 56 points year over year, and his strikeout rate — while still better than most — increased. Defensively, he’s not going to contend for a Gold Glove. But he’s just a few years removed from being a seven-win player. The defense might keep him from ever getting back to that, but he consistently hits the ball as hard as anyone in the big leagues, so the results at the plate should have some positive regression. The contract, however, might be the biggest hold-up. Marte is signed through his age-34 season (2028), but that extension kicks in at an average of $15.2 million in 2023.

Jeff McNeil, New York Mets
By Fangraphs WAR, only Jose Altuve and Andres Gimenez were more valuable last season than McNeil. McNeil led the big leagues with a 3.26 batting average last season and has been a .300 hitter for his entire career. He hit just nine home runs and drove in 62 runs, which is in line with his career run production. He’s not going to be peak J.D. Martinez or anything like that, but he’s obviously one of the best pure hitters in the sport who doesn’t strike out pretty much ever. McNeil is also an elite defender, ranking in the 95th percentile in outs above average. He has two more seasons of arb before hitting free agency following his age-32 season after the 2024 season. The Mets, of course, know all this. They have legitimate World Series aspirations, and McNeil is quite valuable. They probably aren’t looking to trade him … unless they do something wild like sign Trea Turner or something else that disrupts the infield. If it gets to that point, and McNeil looks like a potential odd man out, the Red Sox would certainly make sense.

Thumbnail photo via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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