In expensive rental market, Red Sox deemed cost of Francisco Rodriguez prohibitive

July 23, 2013 - 5:20 pm

One of the most prominent potential relief options disappeared from the market on Tuesday, when the Brewers traded Francisco Rodriguez (1.09 ERA, 10 saves, 26 strikeouts and 9 walks in 24 2/3 innings) to the Orioles in exchange for corner infield prospect Nick Delmonico. According to an industry source, the Red Sox talked to the Brewers about Rodriguez but weren't interested at the acquisition cost that he ultimately represented. It's worth noting that while Rodriguez's numbers this year have been outstanding, he had a 4.78 ERA with eight homers allowed last year. Delmonico entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 4 overall prospect in the Orioles' system, a 21-year-old with the bat to project as a potential big league everyday corner infielder. This year, Delmonico is hitting .244 with a .351 OBP and .471 slugging mark with 13 homers for Frederick of the High-A Carolina League, strong numbers for a player who is young for the level. Though not precisely an apples-to-apples comparison, a Red Sox positional prospect with roughly the value of a Delmonico (ceiling of a solid everyday player) might be someone like Deven Marrero, the Sox' 2012 first-rounder who is also playing in the High-A Carolina League, playing excellent defense at a position of greater value (shortstop) but who, at 22, is hitting .257/.337/.333 (with 18 steals in as many attempts), suggesting less offensive impact. A highly regarded potential everyday corner infielder represents a relatively steep price for two-plus months of a reliever who will be a free agent after the year. Of course, the trade market had already pointed to the possibility of steep prices for rentals once Matt Garza moved from the Cubs to the Rangers in exchange for Triple-A third baseman Mike Olt, big league right-hander Justin Grimm, and High-A right-hander C.J. Edwards and one or two players to be named. An equivalent package from the Sox might be something like Will Middlebrooks (like Olt, a near big league-ready third baseman experiencing a down year), Brandon Workman (a big league-ready starter) and Henry Owens (a high-ceiling young pitcher who is dominating older opponents in the Carolina League) -- a considerable In short, the cost of bolstering for the final months of 2013 is a fairly significant tax on future years. That does not rule out any moves by the Sox, but it does help to explain their reluctance to dive into the rental market and their preference for starters like Bud Norris and Jake Peavy who are under team control. Moreover, while Sox officials have pledged an aggressive exploration of the trade market, the team's effort to get a read on its own prospects' big league readiness also becomes apparent.

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