Buster Olney

Buster Olney: 'Speculation within the industry' about 3-way blockbuster between Red Sox, Cubs, Padres

July 31, 2015 - 10:13 am
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With the trade deadline ticking ever closer, ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney checked in with WEEI's midday show to talk about deals that could be in the works before the clock strikes 4 p.m. on the East Coast. To listen to the interview, go to the Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

Olney tweeted Friday that there is "some speculation within the industry" about a three-way trade taking shape between the Red Sox, Padres and Cubs.

"I have nothing concrete in terms of what actually could be taking place," Olney said, "I know there's been a ton talk of talk between the Cubs and the Padres and we know that the Red Sox and Padres match up to some degree. The Red Sox really like [Padres starter] Tyson Ross, it would make some sense if they were to wind up somehow with [Padres closer] Craig Kimbrel.

"Besides the fact that he would be under contract for the next two years, he's an excellent closer, but also they'd be able to keep him away from the Yankees, who are sitting there with a big safety net. If the Padres weren't able to make another deal, [the Yankees] are positioned to get Kimbrel. There are a lot of different reasons they could potentially work something out."

Olney added that another piece that could potentially fit in to a three-team trade is Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. Castillo has played only 30 games this season for the Red Sox and just four since recently being called up from Triple-A. He has a .256 average on the year and is signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract.

"What I got from some people within the Red Sox organization was ... 'Oh boy, we don't know if [Castillo] can play,'" Olney said. "And if that's how they feel, if that's how the front office feels about it, then this potentially could present an opportunity to move some money because the Padres are trying to move some money, the Cubs are trying to move some money with Starlin Castro. Again, these are three teams with so many jigsaw pieces that fit in one way or another which is why people are anticipating that with these teams, there could be something there."

There has been some speculation about the trade value of closer Koji Uehara, who, at age 40, still has an impressive 2.45 ERA. Olney has not heard that the Sox are trying to move Uehara, and would not expect the team to do so unless it also was interested in making a move for Kimbrel.

"[Uehara] could theoretically in a three-way thing actually make sense for the Cubs, as well," Olney said. "They're in a position where they're actually trying to win this year, he's throwing well right now. I wouldn't want to address Uehara until I knew for sure Kimbrel was a Red Sox option."

Some rumors have connected the Mets and Red Sox as potential trade partners. On the surface, they seem like a good fit: The Mets have a lot of young arms that could benefit the Red Sox long term, and the Sox have a lot of bats that could bolster the anemic Mets lineup. According to Olney, however, the pieces don't quite fit together.

"The question would be, what Red Sox outfielder, in theory, could match up for somebody like [starter Zach] Wheeler in terms of what the Mets are looking for right now?" Olney said. "Obviously, the Red Sox wouldn't move Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is owed way too much money. On down the line, there wouldn't necessarily seem to be a great fit there."

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to weei.com/redsox.

On manager John Farrell's job security: "I know that ownership had questions about John Farrell and Ben [Cherington], from what I understand, basically defended John by saying, 'What happened this year is on me. It's my responsibility.' This part is my speculation: I've been around too many owners. At some point they begin to ask for a pound of flesh, they begin to look for something different. That's why I put John on that list [of people under the most pressure in the second half of the season]. Given the fact that they're not necessarily going to be able to turn over a lot of things, a manager is an easy thing to turn over, and that's why I'd be concerned for John about whether or not he's going to be back next year."

On Dustin Pedroia's trade value: "They have real questions about what he's going to be in the future just because he'€™s sustained so many injuries, he's been beaten down so much. They just wonder if it's just a case where the guy's worn down. Until he's back on the field and hitting for power over 150 games, I think those questions are going to linger. That's just how I think the industry views him right how. Especially with the money, I can'€™t imagine that there would necessarily be a lot of interest until he stays on the field for an extended period of time."

On Mike Napoli's trade value after today's non-waiver deadline: "The July 31st trade deadline does not apply to him. He would clear waivers easily, no team would claim him because of the money owed to him and the production this year. The Red Sox would certainly be in a position where they could deal him in August. I'm sure that even if they got some nibbles today, there would be no urgency to necessarily move on until they get that sense of, 'Hey, we might as well start looking at guys for next year.' "