First off, this isn’t the frist time we’ve written about this. In fact, we’ve written about this topic once before. We even once wrote about this very issue. But in case those three links weren’t enough, let’s review the facts:
During the mid to late 2000s, the Boston Red Sox doled out a series of spectacularly awful contracts (see: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Diasuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, et al.). In late August of this year, Boston’s rookie GM erased the better part of those mistakes in one fell swoop. Matsuzaka’s contract expired after game 162, leaving John Lackey as the final vestige of that unfortunate past. Needless to say, they head into the offseason with a major stack of cash, but in the wake of those recently rectified failures, the Red Sox are going to be quite wary of committing themselves to long term, big money contracts. (Case and point: they have refused to bend to Cody Ross’s demand for three years and $25 million.) This presents an sticky situation as their All-Star caliber (potentially MVP caliber) centerfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, is entering the last year of his contract, is in his physical prime, and will certainly demand big-time money over big-time years.
At the same time, Boston just traded their
utility starting shortstop to Toronto for a manager, and do not currently have a viable replacement. (We said “viable,” all you Jose Iglesias fans…)
During the waning minutes of the Texas Rangers’ 2012 campaign, an awkward moment befell the Ballpark in Arlington: All-Star and MVP caliber outfielder Josh Hamilton was booed by the home fans. Hamilton is currently in free agency and the feeling is that he will most likely sign elsewhere–for more than nine figures. The Rangers have the financial wherewithal to re-sign him, but may lack the inclination given concerns over his health, durability, and addiction history. This leaves them in dire need of pop and star power.
Simultaneously, they have too many shortstops. Two time All-Star Elvis Andrus currently mans the postion, but Jurickson Profar, baseball’s top prospect, is the future at the postion and is by most accounts Major League ready right now.
One scenario the Rangers are reportedly considering is moving All-Star second basemen Ian Kinsler to the outfield to, with one move, fill Hamilton’s position and open a spot for Profar at second. That seems overly complicated and would result in two players playing out of position. There is a much more elegant solution: trade Andrus for Ellsbury. It works for everyone.
The Red Sox turn a 29 year old, contract-year outfielder into a 24 year old shortstop, under contract for two more years. Over those next two seasons, Andrus will make about what Ellsbury will earn next year. Boston avoids the headache and PR nightmare of an ugly contract negotiaon (Ellsbury is represented by Scott Boras), any further injury related disappointments, and ship out yet another piece left over from the tumult of the past two seasons. They also get a legitimate shortstop, something they haven’t had since Nomar Garciaparra. Though Andrus is no offensive juggernaut, he would pencil in nicely ahead of Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, and David Ortiz in the Sox lineup. In essence: more years, more reliable player, cheaper, better team fit. As a bonus, Andrus’s two year stint would be just long enough for the Sox to fully evaluate shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts.
The Rangers also get an elite player at a positon of need. They basically trade Hamilton for someone younger and cheaper, who could realistically (if Hamilton’s injury/inconsistency trends persist) put up better total numbers next season. Plus, the Rangers could take the hundred million plus dollars they were going to give Hamilton and negotiate a extension with Ellsbury. They would be able feel more confident in their investment knowing that Ellsbury doesn’t have the addiction history. (Both players have had injury issues, but Hamilton’s have been of the more concerning day-to-day variety, while Ellsbury’s have been freak accidents.) More over, the Rangers have home runs in their lineup between Adrain Beltre, Nelson Cruiz, Kinsler, and even Mike Olt coming up, but the speed that Ellsbury would add at the top of the order would be a welcome addition (not to mention the homers). Just as importantly, the trade would open the shortstop position for Profar. He could slide into his natural positon and allow Kinsler to stay at his own. Cruz and the super fast Craig Gentry would fill in around Ellsbury in centerfield, and the Rangers would be locked and loaded for a fourth straight World Series run.
This trade makes way too much sense to not happen. The Red Sox save money, fill a huge need, and avoid a headache. The Rangers fill a huge need, clear a positional logjam, and can spend their money more comfortably. Ben Cherrington and Jon Daniels, pull the trigger on this one.