A report today from CBS Sports’ Baseball Insider Danny Knobler states that, with the emergence of rookie prospect Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox “definitely intend” to trade third baseman Kevin Youkilis this season.
For a week and a half, Bobby Valentine has made the new Red Sox lineup rotation work, with Adrian Gonzalez spending some time in right field and Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks both spending some time on the bench.
But the rotation system can only be a temporary fix, and the Red Sox realize that.
Eventually, the Red Sox need to trade Youkilis. And Red Sox officials have told officials of other teams that’s exactly what they intend to do.
Youkilis is 33 (an old 33, it appears), and he has a big contract (he makes $12 million this year, with a $13 million option or $1 million buyout for 2013). But he has hit .313 with a .903 OPS in nine games since returning from the disabled list, and with very few good bats expected to be available in trade this summer, the Sox should have no problem finding a partner.
For what it’s worth, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington shot down the trade speculation through WEEI on Friday.
“That’s inaccurate,” Cherington told WEEI.com. “Some teams have checked in on him. We haven’t told any teams we plan to trade him. It’s our job to listen if teams have interest. He’s swinging the bat well since coming off the D.L. and (is) a big part of our team and lineup.”
Despite struggling early on in the season, Youkilis is hitting .313/.371/.531 since returning from the disabled list a week and a half ago, which should be enough to convince teams that he can still contribute on a consistent level.
Early reports indicate that both the Dodgers and White Sox already have a lot of interest in Youkilis, with both teams already sending out scouts to watch Youk play. Other teams that could reportedly be interested in the third baseman include the Phillies, Reds, Diamondbacks, Giants and Rangers.
If the Sox indeed are set on trading Youkilis, chances are the more of Youk’s salary that the they are willing to eat, the better their return will be.
There are many options the Red Sox could explore in a return package for Youkilis, but Knobler also stated that the team informed the rest of the league that they are currently looking to trade for a pitcher.
Early speculation is that Cherington will attempt to deal with his former boss, Theo Epstein, in Chicago. Epstein’s Cubs will likely look to trade Matt Garza and/or Ryan Dempster this summer, both of who could be of interest to the Sox.
Dempster, who is the final year of his contract, would likely be a one-year rental if acquired by the Red Sox, but Garza has another year of arbitration before becoming a free agent after the 2013 season.