The young core is primarily under 25 years of age – hard to believe!
Rafael Devers is the baby at 21, Benny is 23, and Xander / Mookie are 25. Christian Vasquez is the elder statesman of the group at 27.
Despite the youth, both Xander and JBJ are currently in the middle of their arbitration years where the Red Sox can continue to raise their respective salaries before reaching Free Agency in 2021.
Now with both of these players being “contractually controlled” by the Red Sox, could it make sense for them to consider trading either, or both, to restock their farm system?
The Red Sox may consider moving Jackie Bradley Jr. whose defense is unquestionably his calling card, yet his offense is too streaky to consider him a reliable offensive force in the lineup. He went from hitting .267/26/87/.835 in 2016 to a mere .245/17/63/.726 in 2017.
The list of potential centerfielders that are available via free agency is headed up by Lorenzo Cain, whom our own Gerard Lombardo outlined as a potential target if the Sox indeed look to move JBJ. If Dombrowski thought he could get a good deal for JBJ then I’d definitely think it makes sense to move him and sign Cain. The upcoming free agent is a perennial Gold Glove candidate and has shown the ability to succeed in the postseason with Kansas City.
Xander is a great young player, despite what his second half 2017 numbers may indicate. Clearly he is not Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, or Corey Seager, but he is in the second tier which includes Brandon Crawford, Addison Russell, Trea Turner. Not a bad tier to be in.
In respect to Xander, this past season he battled multiple injuries including a bruised wrist / hand after getting hit by a pitch right before the All-Star Game which lingered far into the second half of the season. He also dealt with constant changing lineup spots. He hit in leadoff, second, third, as well as sixth this past season under former manager John Farrell. As a result, his offensive breakout of last season (hitting .294/21/89/.802) was non existent this year.
Now, with Alex Cora in control, the Red Sox are hoping that Xander can find stability in the order. In addition, management expects that he’ll once again establish himself as one of the top shortstops in all of the game.
If Dombrowski was to move JBJ it would be similar to when the Red Sox traded young center fielder and 1975 Rookie of the Year and MVP, Fred Lynn to the California Angels in 1981, for a package of pitchers (Frank Tanana, Jim Dorsey and outfielder Joe Rudi).
Let’s hope that if Dombrowski does decide that JBJ is not worth the money, that he:
1) Receives a package of players / prospects that helps the Red Sox now and later.
2) He has a plan in mind of whom he could get to replace JBJ. Either shifting Benintendi to center and signing a guy like JD Martinez to play left field, or signing Cain to play center and keep Benintendi in left.
At this point, it is all speculation and I have confidence that as the offseason continues, we will see what exactly Dombrowski has in mind.