After a largely lackluster performance in the free agent market in recent months, the Boston Red Sox’s offseason will likely revolve around the trade market for the rest of the winter, and it’s not just in my opinion. Chaim Bloom himself has indicated this and while securing a long-term contract for Rafael Devers should also be a priority (if not the priority), the Red Sox are still looking for that one or two needle-moving trades.
Bloom deserves credit for improving the bullpen, albeit incrementally, but for this team to really get back in the game and not just add a few wins to a last-place team, more impact moves high are needed. So far, the Red Sox haven’t been able to land any, with a big free agent after signing a big free agent with other suitors in November and December.
Unfortunately, while focusing on trades at this point makes a lot of sense since most top free agents are now employed on a paid basis, the Red Sox aren’t flush with players in high demand to trade, making the odds to orchestrate a lot more blockbuster. from a distance. However, there is this guy named Triston Casas who is seemingly off limits but could open up a whole new class of trading targets. Apparently, the Miami Marlins are ready to be on the other side of such a deal.
Now, trading Casas isn’t something the Red Sox should be eager to do. Last year, the 22-year-old first baseman finished 35th among baseball prospects, according to FanGraphs, and even got his first taste of MLB action. With mouthwatering power and more striking tool overall, Casas is currently on track to be a mainstay in the middle of the Red Sox roster for years to come. Although he only hit .197 in 95 plate appearances last season, he hit .408 and posted a .358 on-base percentage, while finishing 20% above the league average as a hitter. based on wRC+. All that to say, it would take a lot for the Red Sox to even consider a Casas trade, let alone finalize one. But the Marlins are one of the few teams in MLB with plenty of great young players but little to show in the past two years, which means it may not be as impossible to shoo away some of these great young players than with another. club.
It also helps that any discussion between these two teams doesn’t have to start with a cold call, as the Red Sox and Marlins have reportedly floated the idea of a Joey Wendle trade. The former Tampa Bay Ray was traded to the Marlins prior to last season, but struggled in his first year in Miami. While his ability to play anywhere in the infield was still there, he only reduced .259/.297/.360 for an 87 wRC+. It’s not very exciting and a straight swap of Casas for Wendle can’t be what the Marlins have offered because it would be beyond insulting. However, Wendle (or perhaps Miguel Rojas) could help fill the Red Sox’s need for interior depth and, perhaps more importantly, Wendle’s talks could be the start of something bigger.
How much bigger is the question here. The Red Sox will rightly demand the world and several other planets for Casas. He’s young, well-liked and under the control of the team (groan, I hate that phrase) for quite a while. The Red Sox don’t seem to be in win-now mode, so firing Casas, even for an established star, doesn’t quite fit their modus operandi. However, the right offer could change things.
When we discuss this mythical “good offer”, we must first eliminate the chimeras. Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. won’t be on the other end of this deal, and if they were, it would have already been finalized. Alcantara just won the National League’s Cy Young Award and Chisholm is one of baseball’s most exciting young players. I highly doubt the Marlins would trade either, no matter who they get in the deal. Sure, Casas is great, and the Red Sox could (and probably should) add more to their side, but unless Rafael Devers is in the mix (don’t get any ideas, Chaim), the Marlins aren’t going to trade these two guys until a pair of cutting-edge Mike Trout clones are in the mix.
Now that we’ve crushed these fantastic business scenarios, let’s talk about the more realistic ones. Luckily for the Red Sox, realistic doesn’t mean dull. According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins could consider making one of their other stellar young starting pitchers available as part of a deal for Casas, such as Pablo López, Edward Cabrera and/or Trevor Rogers. After all, with the Marlins also having Alcantara, Jesús Luzardo and hopefully Sixto Sánchez, they can afford to let go of a starter to try to bolster their long-term roster. Meanwhile, for a Red Sox team that has rotational depth but not much reliable young star power (sorry, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber), getting one of those three would be a godsend. But which of them would be the best player to target for the Red Sox?
Let’s start with López. The 26-year-old right-hander is the most established of the three and the most consistent as well. Don’t read consistent as mediocre, though. In 510 career innings, López has a 3.94 ERA, 3.77 FIP and 16.4 percent strikeout rate. He was particularly dynamite on 20 starts in 2021 (3.07 ERA, 10.08 strikeouts per nine innings), but even with a bit of regression in 2022, he still set a career high at 2.8 fWAR. As he developed, López relied more and more on his fastball-change combination, with the latter delivering better and better, indicating that he might have another level ahead of him.
Cabrera is the youngest of the three, though he’s only a few months ahead of Rogers, so that’s not such a drastic point in his favor. The 24-year-old right-hander made his MLB debut in 2021 and struggled, especially with his command. He came back strong in 2022 after undergoing additional training in the minors to start the year. On June 1, in his first start of the 2022 campaign at the MLB level, he was amazing, going a no-hitter in the sixth inning and ultimately allowing one hit and zero runs while striking out nine batters in six innings. . He continued to impress throughout the season, finishing the year with a 3.01 ERA in 71 2⁄3 innings, as well as a smell rate in the 88th percentile, a fastball that clocked in at 96 miles per hour, and devastatingly effective shifting as part of a diverse pitch mix. However, he still struggled to find the area too often, with a walk rate of 11.3 per cent raising red flags across his underlying metrics. Additionally, Cabrera has been on and off the injured list more than a few times over the past two seasons.
If I was writing this article a year ago, it would be absurd for the Red Sox to be interested in anyone other than Rogers (or Alcantara, but again, he’s not really part of this discussion) . The 25-year-old southpaw has been exceptional in 2021 after a seven-start audition during the shortened 2020 season. He amassed 4.2 fWAR, produced a 2.64 ERA and struck out 28.5% of batters in 133 innings, earning himself a spot on the NL All-Star Team and second place in the NL Rookie Voting. ‘year. Rogers hasn’t been as effective this year, regressing sharply to post a 5.47 ERA and 22.2 percent strikeout rate in 107 innings while joining Cabrera with a few stints in IL. Despite the setbacks, Rogers, the only prospect in the top-100 of the three, still projects very well, with extra stuff (especially his fastball and substitution) and his command.
If the Red Sox were trying to deal Casas for one of those three pitchers, López is the safest choice because he has a high floor and could easily be a solid No. 3 or even No. 2 starter for a contender. Cabrera and Rogers offer much more volatility, but their caps are much higher, especially for Rogers. If it bounces back and finds the magic of 2021 again, you’re talking about a swing arm top that has just entered its peak.
For my money, if the Red Sox were to make this deal and could only get one of these guys, I would go for López. Cabrera and Rogers might have the higher advantage, but swapping a guy with lots of upside but no certainty for another is a sideways move, while adding a proven (and still improving) guy like López in exchange for someone. One that might be awesome but hasn’t been proven yet is a better bet. Essentially, if we’re assuming that most prospects, even great ones, don’t materialize, then it makes sense to trade promise for proven talent.
Ultimately, I don’t think a deal is going to happen here and I don’t think it should. It’s possible that adding Wendle or Rojas with one of those starters would make it harder to say no, as it would significantly improve the Red Sox rotation and close their gap at shortstop. However, while these three pitchers have a lot to love, there is enough uncertainty (Can López be a top starter in the rotation? Can Cabrera improve his command? Can Rogers recapture the magic of 2021? ?) so that losing Casas isn’t worth it. .
Hitters are generally a little more reliable in terms of long-term health than pitchers, and if Casas fulfills his potential, the Red Sox could have the middle of their command sorted for a decade or more. Trading him – especially given Cabrera and Rogers’ injury history – could look bad very quickly. Besides, if the Red Sox were interested in making that kind of splash, they would have done it already. If nothing else, it shows just how valuable Casas is and how much he is viewed outside of the Red Sox system. Now, if the Marlins want to do a full-scale fire sale and make Alcantara available, then that’s a whole different conversation. But, and I remember it as much as you, it’s a pipe dream.