Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where Oh Where Will Youk Go?

The market for Kevin Youkilis is kind of hard to read. I’ve read a handful of sensible trade options, and an overwhelming number of incredibly stupid ideas. Let’s sort this out shall we? There are 3 things that any team looking to acquire Youk, or a player in a comparable position, need. For this exercise we’re assuming that the Red Sox consider themselves in contention eliminating the entire AL East off the bat regardless of the package they offer. An interested team will need:

This leaves the Tigers, Angels, Marlins, Pirates, Giants, and D-Backs. Every one of these teams has a reasonably solid to very strong rotation and the depth to allow giving up a pitcher to not crush them. So of 29 potential destinations we’re left with 6 legitimate landing spots for Youk. It’s now as much about how much the team is willing to give up for the 33 year old corner infielder. He certainly can help on either side of the infield, and with a team option for next year he could well be more than a rental if an acquiring team views him as worth 12 million for next season (1 mil buyout or 13 mil option).

I’d be surprised to see a team giving up much more than a mid rotation starter, a solid No. 3 or a very good No. 4 starter, though a solid 4 and a prospect of some kind might be an equally valid option given the current rotation situation in Boston.

  • Detroit isn’t looking as impressive this year as they have in the past. They do have starters worth some serious value, Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer could be sent to Boston for Youk. While Detroit does have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder clogging up the corner infield slots, they could potentially move Delmon Young to just about anywhere else for a potentially more useful Youk who would give the duo a bit more protection in the lineup and the ability to give either one a ½ day off without having to put a lame duck utility infielder in their place.
  • The Angels could easily swap Ervin Santana who’s having a down year in a near equal contract swap, giving the Red Sox a warm body to put in the rotation with the ability to be a top flight starter, despite his not showing it this season. The Angels probably have more pressing needs than upgrading at 3B, so this isn’t the most likely scenario.
  • The Marlins could give up someone like Ricky Nolasco who’s not a bad performer per se but hasn’t been top flight either. They have Chad Gaudin in their system and could easily use him in their rotation if they feel that Josh Johnson will be able to bounce back and contribute in the postseason. They don’t have the strongest need for Youk, but could put Logan Morrison back in the outfield to give the team a shot in the arm.
  • The Buccos could give Erik Bedard back to the Red Sox, maybe the Sox would push for Brad Lincoln, or possibly A.J. Burnett, but how strongly they feel they can compete remains to be seen. I don’t know if the Sox would bite for a return trip from Bedard or if they feel Burnett could hold up in Boston any better than he did in NY, but player value isn’t all that far off. The Pirates may not feel that they’ll be capable of winning the division with Youk and balk at the idea, but they’re certainly an option until proven otherwise.
  • The D-backs aren’t necessarily “in it” this year but their division appears to be quite winnable with both teams above them in the standings having significant holes.That said, being below .500 at the moment might scare them away from giving up any pitchers with long term controllability or value but they have a below average offense and could possibly give up an arm that they don’t expect to keep around. Joe Saunders makes the most sense given his overall value is slightly above average at the moment but he doesn’t exactly have a history of ace quality work. they’re not necessarily in dire need of a corner infielder, but they could use an upgrade at 3rd and allow Ryan Roberts to fill in as a primary backup at 2nd, 3rd, and left.
  • The Giants may/may not need help in the corners. Brandon Belt is getting on base well though his lack of power may not be helping him out much. Joaquin Arias has been underwhelming in Pablo Sandoval’s stead and there are questions as to when Sandoval will return. The Giants could move someone like Barry Zito who’s been a long term thorn in their side despite how well he’s pitching at the moment. I doubt that they would make a knee jerk move like sending Tim Lincecum anywhere due to his pedigree.

I’m not saying these are all perfect deals, but each team could potentially benefit from Boston’s desire to move a 12 million dollar commitment who’s got nowhere to play for the team. They don’t have the leverage that a team that’s totally out of contention would have to just hold onto their player for the offseason to net a higher ransom. They’re trying to win now, and being in a close division a solid middle of the rotation starter would go a long way for them. Certainly the White Sox or the Dodgers could make a play for him but I feel like it would be quite the uphill battle for them to do so given the quality of their rotations. The White Sox don’t have the depth to replace some of their underperformers, and someone like Aaron Harang wouldn’t be desirable in Boston. Of the options I’ve deemed “legitimate”  I’m most intrigued by the idea of Detroit making a play for an impact bat, though they may look to replace someone like Ryan Raburn at 2B with someone who has stronger on base skills and potentially some speed. More likely to me would be the D-Backs or possibly the Marlins. This is all certainly conjecture, Ben Cherington decides that he’d rather look to next year or the year after he may look for a much more prospect heavy return which would bring teams without a ton of rotation depth back into the picture.

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