The first moves in what are sure to be many this offseason have taken place with the Red Sox signing free agents Pablo Sandoval to play third base and Hanley Ramirez likely to play left field.
Clearly, these additions have improved the Red Sox’ lineup, but what they have also done is create an overload of players at certain positions, notably the outfield, and with clear needs in the starting rotation, some players on the roster are going to have to go.
Here are a few players who could be dealt within the next month or so:
Yoenis Cespedes, OF — The Red Sox acquired Cespedes for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes last season at the trade deadline and Cespedes performed well with the Sox – hitting .269 with five homers and 33 RBI in 51 games playing left field. His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2015 season, with no qualifying offer being able to be given.
With the acquisition of Ramirez likely to play left field and he being the 10th outfielder on the 40-man roster, a few players are going to have to go. Cespedes has the most value to another team, and it seems likely he will be in a deal for a starting pitcher.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B – With Sandoval coming aboard, there really is no place for the 26-year-old, who has struggled while battling injuries the last two seasons. After hitting .288 with 15 homers as a rookie in 2012, he’s hit just .213 with 19 home runs the last two years.
While it is unlikely he will be a major piece to a deal, and almost rather a throw in, the righty does still have some power potential and he could benefit from a change of scenery.
Blake Swihart, C — Swihart is regarded as one of the best prospects in the Red Sox’ farm system, as the catcher finished the year in Pawtucket last year and likely has another season in the minors before he’s ready for the majors. His upside is tremendous, as the former first-rounder hit .300 with 12 home runs in Double-A Portland over 92 games last year as a switch-hitter. His defense has improved a great deal the past few seasons and there’s little doubt he will be an everyday catcher in the big leagues. It’s that upside teams will be after.
Mookie Betts, OF – While this is certainly a long-shot, if an elite player in return came along, the Red Sox would likely jump on it as they could afford to lose Betts with Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. as center fielders, and also Shane Victorino returning from back surgery to play right. Betts is the type of guy the team wouldn’t look to trade, but if the right offer was presented to them, they would likely consider.