The easiest and most logical move for the Boston Red Sox to make, before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, would be to add a veteran arm to the bullpen.
But if Dave Dombrowski is looking to get creative, while adding what the team needs and sending a shockwave through his clubhouse in the process, then allow me to be of some assistance.
When Chris Sale threw at Manny Machado back in early May, I thought the Red Sox had filled the “leadership” void that was created by David Ortiz’ retirement. But when details emerged from David Price’s latest media confrontation with Hall of Famer and NESN color commentator Dennis Eckersley, it became evident that Big Papi’s absence continues to be a problem that goes beyond offensive production.
That’s not to say Sale isn’t a good leader. He is. In fact, he’s still the Red Sox captain, in my eyes. But this team needs a veteran leader who plays every day. And not just plays, but plays at a high-enough level to where it demands the respect of his teammates, every day, not just every fifth day.
Sooner rather than later, that player will be Mookie Betts. But at just 24 years old, he’s no vet just yet. The Red Sox need that veteran All-Star right now, who can immediately step in and become a well-respected presence in the clubhouse.
So go get Andrew McCutchen already.
The Pittsburgh Pirates nearly traded him to the Washington Nationals this past winter for two top prospects — outfielder Victor Robles and pitcher Lucas Giolito — but Washington thought Pittsburgh was asking for too much, and the Nationals instead traded one of those two top prospects — Giolito — in a package that landed them Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox.
McCutchen, 30, remains a Pirate. He’s a five-time All-Star and 2013 NL MVP who’s making $14 million this season. Pittsburgh holds a club option on him for next year, at $14.75 million, which they’ve yet to pick up.
The centerfielder had a down year in 2016 ,and got off to terrible start this season until he hit .411 with six home runs and 23 RBI in the month of June. He’s cooled off a little bit in July, but has still been good enough to raise his season average to .289 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI on the year.
Recent reports suggest the Pirates are “leaning towards” not trading McCutchen. But that’s where a team like the Red Sox should jump in.
McCutchen is exactly the type of player the Red Sox need. Question is, where would he fit?
In a perfect world, somebody would take Hanley Ramirez off your hands and McCutchen would become your DH, or you’d move Mitch Moreland and convince Ramirez to once again be the every day first baseman. But none of that is going to happen.
That’s where this would turn into a true “blockbuster.” Send Pittsburgh a package that’s built around Price and Jackie Bradley Jr, while eating a good chunk of Price’s salary. But tell the Pirates to throw righty starter Gerrit Cole into the trade. In return, the Red Sox could throw in 2016 first-round pick and lefty starter Jason Groome, along with 25-year-old Blake Swihart and a mid-level prospect.
Cole, 26, is arbitration eligible again in 2018 and 2019. He’s having a down year and has already expressed unhappiness with his low salary in Pittsburgh. Because of that, his name has come up in trade rumors.
I’d expect the Pirates to also demand that Red Sox top-prospect Rafael Devers be included in this trade. And I’m here to tell you that I wouldn’t hang the phone up on them if they did. But I’d probably give them an either/or ultimatum with Groome and Devers. However, I would then demand that veteran utility man Josh Harrison be thrown in with McCutchen and Cole, if Pittsburgh chose Devers.
So here’s my proposed trade:
Red Sox receive: Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole (and Josh Harrison if they choose Devers over Groome).
Pirates receive: David Price (half of his remaining salary), Jackie Bradley Jr., Jason Groome OR Rafael Devers, Blake Swihart, a mid-level prospect.
Seems like a pretty good trade to me, for both teams.
The Pirates would still be able to compete right now while taking care of some looming contract situations, and getting a top prospect for the future.
The Red Sox would improve their offense while filling a major leadership void, and adding a top-of-the-rotation right-handed arm.
I’m not sure what they’re waiting for.
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