Keep ‘Em Or Trade ‘Em – Red Sox Outfield Edition

Earlier in the week I did the infield so today we’ll look at the outfield.  Since so many guys have shuffled in and out of the lineup in the outfield there are quite a few guys to get to here and at the end of the day there are a limited number of roster spots if everyone is healthy so someone’s gotta go.

NOTE – I forgot to mention in the last column that David Ortiz has 10/5 no trade rights so he can veto any trade which would be another argument against trading Papi.  The only other Sox player with 10/5 rights is Josh Beckett and I’ll get to him on Sunday.

Ross’ right handed power is essential to the Sox lineup

Cody Ross – Ross is on a 1-year deal so he would be a rent-a-player for any potential trade partner.  With the exception of Darnell McDonald he is the only exclusive right-handed hitter that the Red Sox have in their outfield.  For that reason alone, particularly if Youkilis is traded, Ross is near untouchable.

Verdict – Keep Him

Ryan Sweeney – Sweeney is 27 and cost-controlled but he’s one of the most versatile outfielders that the Red Sox have.  He’s been on the DL twice already this year and currently resides there now.  He would be a guy that teams would inquire about but his health concerns may turn them off.  He also has virtually no power so if teams are looking for a power outfielder then they’ll look elsewhere.  He’s an intriguing trade option no doubt but I think at the end of the day his injuries preclude him for being moved at this point.  He also has some long term value to the Sox that some of these other guys don’t have.

Verdict – Keep Him

Kalish will probably stick around in Boston for a long while

Ryan Kalish – Kalish would be the most valuable Red Sox outfield piece on the open market.  He’s just 24 years old and seems to have put his injury problems of last season behind him.  He could be the center piece of a deal to bring a big time major league player back in return but I don’t see the Red Sox moving him.  He is their best outfield prospect ready to play in the big leagues right now and with only Carl Crawford signed beyond next season it seems like he’ll be primed for a lot of playing time in the future.  If he wasn’t injured he’d be the starting right fielder this season.  He stays and probably for a while.

Verdict – Keep Him

Daniel Nava – This is an interesting one.  I know that Nava has become a tremendous fan favorite in his time in Boston and he’s exactly the scrappy kind of player that the fans love.  The thing is that he’s 29 years old so he’s not any sort of young prospect and you’d be basically selling a guy at their highest point of value.  Nava is the type of guy that a contending team that is desperate for outfield help would overpay for at the deadline.  He has less than 2 years of service time so he is cost-controlled and he’s still got options.  Let’s face it – at the end of the day all of these guys can’t have a roster spot.  Only 5 outfielders will be kept on the roster at a time until September 1 and you could sell Nava high right now.  One option is to trade Sweeney and keep Nava but Sweeney is younger and his health issues may prevent you from getting the most value from him.  I’d hate to see him go but this one makes the most sense.

Nava’s value will never be higher

Verdict – Trade Him, his value will never be any higher

Darnell McDonald – McDonald is a pretty average player and I think that the only reason he has made it this far is that the Red Sox have no other right-handed hitting outfielders besides Cody Ross.  You wouldn’t get much if anything for him in return but with versatile players like Nava, Sweeney, and Scott Posednik ahead of him it would be hard to see him with a chair when the music stops.  He’s a good clubhouse guy but will likely fall victim to the numbers game.

Verdict – Trade Him

Scott Posednik – Posednik’s speed has been a great asset for the Red Sox since he was called up.  He is also hitting close to .400 for the Red Sox.  It’s tough not to see the Red Sox finding a place for him when he is healthy.  Even at 36 he is probably the fastest guy on the Red Sox not named Ellsbury or Crawford.  Imagine the ground covered by an outfield with those three guys late in games?  Surprisingly Posednik has proven to be very valuable to the Sox since they picked him up and should be the 5th guy even when everyone is healthy.

Verdict – Keep Him

Carl Crawford – Contract and health issues make this conversation a non-starter.  Just get him healthy and in the lineup and hope to get something close to the player he was in Tampa.  Maybe the rest and rehab did him good.

Verdict – Keep Him

Ellsbury’s health diminishes his value

Jacoby Ellsbury – This is another interesting one.  Scott Boras said yesterday that there have been zero talks about a contract extension with Ellsbury which is interesting since he is going into the final year of his contract next season.  The time to trade him would be somewhere between now and the start of next season.  There are two problems with trading him before the deadline this season.  First is obviously his health.  He is looking at a early to mid July return.  The second is that any trade involving Ellsbury would net a substantial return.  It would likely involve an All-Star caliber player or high level prospects coming back in return.  The issue really is timing.  If Ellsbury comes back around the All-Star break that leaves other teams two weeks to evaluate whether or not Ellsbury is healthy enough to contribute this season (not a given considering what happened in 2010) and then they’d have to work on a complicated trade with the Red Sox front office.  There really doesn’t seem like there is enough time for a blockbuster Ellsbury deal to come together at the deadline.  I can absolutely see it in the off-season depending on where contract extension talks go but for now he stays.

Verdict – Keep Him, for now

By the length of this article alone you can see that there is a numbers game in the Sox outfield.  Eventually if all of these guys are healthy they can’t keep them all.  It will be interesting to see what the Sox actually do when the time comes.  Of course all of these guys have to get healthy first.  Sunday morning I’ll have pitchers and catchers.  That one should be fun.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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