Red Sox Trade Rumors – James Shields Deal Makes Sense, Can it Happen?

priceWhen Dave Dombrowski is your president of baseball operations, you are loaded with one of the game’s deepest and most talented farm systems, and there is no clear No. 2 starter behind ace David Price, it is a given that rumors will percolate about potential trades before Opening Day.

In recent days, the Boston Red Sox have been linked to Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who has expressed displeasure with team president Kenny Williams’ handling of Adam Laroche; Oakland A’s right-hander Sonny Gray, who Billy Beane insists is not on the trading block; and even San Diego Padres veteran right-hander James Shields.

Dombrowski has a documented record of dealing top prospects for veteran arms during previous stops in Montreal, Florida and Detroit. Highly regarded left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be 23 on April 7, is expected to open the regular season on the disabled list while recovering from a dislocated right knee. Rodriguez was projected to occupy a No. 4 spot, but he has top of the rotation potential. Though is is expected to be ready by mid-April – and the club has right-handed knuckleballer Steven Wright, and left-handers Roenis Elias and Henry Owens, as capable arms to fill a back of the rotation spot while Rodriguez recovers – chatter abounds about a potential deal.

Price is firmly entrenched atop the rotation. Right-hander Joe Kelly has impressed with a 1.38 ERA in four Spring Training starts, allowing two runs in 13 innings. Rick Porcello and Clay Buchholz, who are expected to solidify the starting pitching core behind Price, have struggled this spring. Porcello has a 12.00 ERA in three starts (nine runs in 12 innings) while Buchholz has served up a 6.75 ERA in two starts (seven runs, including four earned runs, in 5.1 innings).

Elias (6.23 ERA) and Owens (6.97 ERA) have not fared well either. Wright, who is out of options and was projected to at least make the Opening Day roster as a long reliever, has posted a 2.79 ERA over 9.2 innings this spring.

Though Spring Training numbers are not always relevant, the Red Sox are uneasy after back-to-back last place finishes in the American League East. The club would like to sprint out of Opening Day with a successful April, which is why Dombrowski could tap into the wealth of prospects and acquire an impact starting pitcher.

Shields is a deal that makes sense. Over the offseason, media reports indicated that the Red Sox could send Pablo Sandoval and prospects to the Padres for Shields. Yangervis Solarte is slated as San Diego’s Opening Day third baseman. Sandoval is owed $70 million plus over the next four years, so the Red Sox would likely have to pay a bulk of that remaining salary to facilitate a deal with any team. Yet with 25-year-old Travis Shaw in the mix at third base for Boston, and the presence of the versatile Brock Holt, the possibility exists that Sandoval could be dealt.

About the Author

Jeff Louderback
A former sports writer for a daily newspaper in Ohio, Jeff Louderback is a professional freelance writer, author and editor who lives in the midst of Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton. He writes baseball features for several publications, including prospect profiles for Baseball America. He served as the founder, editor and columnist for Sox and Pinstripes, a blog that covered the Red Sox and Yankees; and BoSox Banter, a site that covered the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and baseball-themed travel. Jeff is also the co-author of the life story of former Major League pitcher Brian Tollberg, whose inspirational story saw him rise from the University of North Florida and the independent Frontier League’s Chillicothe Paints to a climb up the minors in the Brewers and Padres systems before tasting success in the majors with the Padres. The book will be released in 2016.

1 Comment on "Red Sox Trade Rumors – James Shields Deal Makes Sense, Can it Happen?"

  1. It’s not a coincidence that the pitcher who has a rotation spot in hand but could potentially lose it (Kelly) and the guy who’s out of options and needs to show something to stay in the organization (Wright) are the only ones who pitched well. Porcello and Buch are already on the team and they’re going to start; it makes no sense for them to go all-out in ST. And it doesn’t matter for Elias and Owens, either; they’ll be lucky to even make the Opening Day roster, let alone crack the rotation.

    If the Red Sox can’t survive the loss of E-Rod for a few weeks, they’re not that good to begin with. It’s actually a blessing in disguise if the team does make the playoffs, because it will keep his innings count down.

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