According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the San Diego Padres have been scouting Pablo Sandoval.
Could the Red Sox really trade Sandoval? As bad as 2015 was, it was merely one of five seasons the Red Sox signed him for. Did the Red Sox ink Sandoval and think he’d be a great player 100 percent of the time? Probably not.
One season is just 20 percent of the contract. It was an awful season, but everyone has bad years. For the Red Sox to actually trade him, there have to be factors beyond just Sandoval and his horrible, no-good 2015 season.
Are there? Yes, there are.
The first name that leaps to mind is Travis Shaw. One week ago Shaw was having himself an amazing 2016 spring training. One week later, he’s still having himself a decent spring.
Shaw has made a compelling case to spend sometime as the starting third baseman, but even Shaw isn’t enough to validate the Red Sox really shopping Sandoval.
Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz, Roenis Elias, Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez are the names of the players that may make a Sandoval trade all but impossible to turn down.
That’s because the Pablo Sandoval trade chatter doesn’t just involve Sandoval. The Red Sox won’t be trading him for nothing. If you believe the speculation, then the Red Sox will be getting James Shields back in the deal.
Shields is a 34 year old starting pitcher with three-years and $65 million left on his contract. Last year Shields made 33 starts, pitched 202.1 innings, amassed a 13-7 record with an ERA of 3.91.
Those aren’t amazing numbers, and when one considers that they were accrued pitching in pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego and primarily against National League West squads not known for lighting up scoreboards, well there’s reason for skepticism.
Of course if you consider that the Red Sox starting rotation currently consists of ace David Price and four guys who might get a few guys out along the way, James Shields looks pretty good.
Red Sox fans spent most of the offseason worrying about Hanley Ramirez, Sandoval, and who would play the outfield besides Mookie Betts.
Some of those concerns were valid, some were not, but they pale in comparison to the severity of the Red Sox currently not having one reliable starting pitcher beyond David Price.
Steven Wright has had an impressive spring, but it takes quite a leap of faith to believe he’s going to morph into a reliable starter. Joe Kelly has also had a great spring but he’s still yielding a fair amount of hits, and one gets the feeling that at some point those hits will come back to haunt Kelly on the mound.
The Red Sox really needed a good or even great spring from the likes of Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz or Eduardo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has been hurt and as of now his timeline to return is not set in stone. Buchholz hasn’t been hurt, which is great until you realize that he’s been less than stellar ( 1-1, 4.50 ERA, opponents hitting .280) on the mound, and it always feels like a matter of time until Buchholz does sustain some sort of injury.
Porcello is the big concern.
He didn’t have to have an amazing spring, or even a good one, all Porcello really needed to do this spring was be good enough to make the Red Sox believe they could send him to the mound once every five games, and if they scored some runs, he’d keep them in games.
That hasn’t happened. Rick Porcello has been awful this spring. He’s been so bad that his outing on Monday against the Orioles actually was considered improvement.
Porcello went 6.2 innings, allowed five earned runs, gave up 10 hits, and the Orioles smacked three home runs as well. Porcello wasn’t concerned about the home runs, he spoke to Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald.
“It’s just a mistake in executing a pitch,” Porcello said. “But other than that I felt pretty good. Was able to get deep into the game. So that’s good.”
Able to get deep into the game?
Yea, the games don’t count, but surely Porcello realizes that if he replicates those results in a game that does count, the only way he gets deep into the game is if the Red Sox have pummeled the opposing starting pitcher.
With less than one week left before the games count, the Boston Red Sox find themselves with a starting rotation comprised of Price and four big question marks.
Could the 2016 Red Sox make the playoffs or even win the AL East with a mediocre Pablo Sandoval? Yes that could happen.
Could the 2016 Red Sox make the playoffs or even win the AL East with a starting rotation consisting of David Price and four below average starting pitchers? Not a chance.
James Shields is older than Sandoval. Just like Sandoval, Shields has a contract that may end up being a major albatross.
The Red Sox might really need Shields though. Getting the Padres to take Sandoval in exchange for Shields will not be easy. Sandoval is younger, but he’s got a larger contract with more years remaining on it. San Diego will probably want the Red Sox to include money and prospects as part of the deal.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox they appear to really need starting pitching, and that’s never cheap to acquire.