Yoenis Cespedes

Some early winter meetings Red Sox notes: Taking stock of Yoenis Cespedes, Deven Marrero as trade chips

December 07, 2014 - 3:18 pm

SAN DIEGO -- With a need to address three holes in the rotation, the Red Sox are inevitably going to be linked to virtually every starting pitcher available this offseason. That will be true of a broad group of free agents -- beyond Jon Lester, there's Max Scherzer, James Shields, Brandon McCarthy and Ervin Santana, among others -- but also teams with pitching to shop in exchange for bats. The Sox, moreover, feature at least the appearance of surplus inventory at a couple positions of scarcity, chiefly the outfield (where Yoenis Cespedes has assumed the most prominent spot as potential trade bait given that he remains under team control for just one year) and even at shortstop, where Deven Marrero is in Triple-A but potentially blocked by Xander Bogaerts. "There aren't any shortstops out there," noted one executive. The Mets have a surplus of starters (with names like Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese and Dillon Gee reportedly on the block), and even after their surprising signing of Michael Cuddyer, they could likely use more offense from their outfield and they are clearly in the market for an upgrade at shortstop. However, according to a major league source, the Mets have no interest in Cespedes (his power is intriguing, but the .301 OBP has been hard for them to look past) and they likewise don't have interest in Marrero as a solution as shortstop because of uncertainty about whether he will hit enough to be an everyday shortstop, or whether he would represent a player who harbors considerable similarities to current shortstop Wilmer Flores, an adequate defender who hit .251/.286/.378 as a 22-year-old in 78 games last season. Meanwhile, the A's have starter Jeff Samardzija -- who is one year from free agency -- as one of the prizes of the trade market. However, while the A's have a clear need for a starting shortstop in 2015, one major league source familiar with the team's thinking said that Oakland has the same reservations about Marrero's offense as the Mets -- chiefly, whether he will hit enough to be an everyday option. Indeed, it would be hard for most teams in need of a shortstop for 2015 to conclude that Marrero was ready for such a role after he hit .210 with a .260 OBP and .285 slugging mark in 50 Triple-A games (following an outstanding start to the year in which he hit .291/.371/.433 in Double-A). Even those who project Marrero as a future everyday shortstop -- and there are many teams that do so -- would be unlikely to view him in such a light until at least the middle of 2015, if not 2016. So, while the Red Sox have the kinds of assets that should permit them to trade to address their pitching, the precise immediate value of those assets can be difficult to discern. For instance, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported (via twitter) that the Padres and Red Sox discussed a Cespedes-for-Ian Kennedy (30 years old this month, one year from free agency, 13-13 with a 3.63 ERA, 9.3 strikeouts and 3.1 walks per nine innings in 2014) swap, but that Boston "believes that Cespedes can bring them [an] even better pitcher." This, of course, is what the winter meetings at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego serve to accomplish. Teams have an opportunity to meet with every club in a short period of time and define in more precise terms exactly what kind of value their tradable assets have. That, along with approximately daylight-deprived hours (a particularly cruel turn of events for executives who remain holed up with San Diego's glorious weather in such tantalizing proximity), contributes to the process of actually making trades happen. Rob Bradford contributed to this report.