The Boston Red Sox have too many outfielders and not enough pitchers. That is a given, and it has been since the start of the offseason, but change must occur in order for Boston to progress, and does that change look like trading an outfielder?

After the signings of Pablo Sandoval to play third base and Hanley Ramirez to play left field, the congestion is clear and change is necessary, but the question that arises is how will it occur?

The Red Sox have Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, and Jackie Bradley Jr. platooning the outfield on their MLB roster while Sandoval joins Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini at third, and Mike Napoli contests Nava and Craig at first base.

The Red Sox will likely enlist one backup corner outfielder as well as a backup first baseman leaving 14 players available for the seven projected roster spots. With four spots going to Ramirez, Sandoval, Napoli and Castillo, Boston is left with three spots for 10 players, meaning trades will be the easiest facet to establish a corrected depth chart.

With Betts seemingly untouchable in accordance to the Red Sox, there have been rumors linking Cespedes to both the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres; two teams in need of an outfield power bat.

If the Red Sox can get a solid, middle rotation arm back for Cespedes, the deal would be ideal considering the talent of recent acquisitions. Trading Cespedes, 29, also ensures that the Red Sox can avoid dealing a prospect for a top talent arm to enable the farm to continue growing.

Though there are variables that would lead many to believe trading Cespedes would be the correct call by general manager Ben Cherington, the Red Sox should not feel obligated to trade Cespedes, and if the perfect deal doesn’t come along, one would hope that they would be satisfied having one of the more potent power bats in baseball starting in right field.

One upper hand Cespedes has is that he is a good baseball player. If Boston truly wants to make the playoffs and contend in 2015, players like Cespedes – both wit the bat and glove – are necessary.

Simple enough? Cespedes is an above-average player, and keeping his bat in what (on paper) looks to be a strong, balanced Red Sox lineup could prove to be a good move on the side of the Boston front office.

Over the course of the 2014 season Cespedes posted a .260/.301/.450 slash line, while also contributing 22 home runs and 100 RBI’s in 152 games and 645 at-bats for both the Oakland Athletics and Red Sox. Cespedes is clearly a good hitter, with a strong power bat, and could be a vital edition to the middle order of Boston’s batting lineup.If he’s your team’s best offensive player, then one has to worry, but if he functions as a complimentary piece to the overall lineup, then he can prove to be a nice addition.

In Ramirez and Sandoval, Boston has two strong hitters to add to a batting order that under performed last season, and if Boston’s hitters can return strong next season then the projected lineup could be of World Series caliber:

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
Left Field: Hanley Ramirez
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz
Right Field: Yoenis Cespedes
First Base: Mike Napoli
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts
Center Field: Rusney Castillo
Catcher: Christian Vazquez

Though Cespedes is likely a better fielder on the left side of the outfield, and his strikeout have a chance of going up due to the hitters around him allowing for complacency, cushioning will help Cespedes thrive in Boston if in-fact he is held onto. Combine Cespedes’ hitting ability with that of Pedroia, Ramirez, Otiz, Napoli, and Sandoval and you have got, potentially, one of the strongest offensive cores in baseball.

Much like what occurred last season with Cespedes switching coasts midway through the season, due to Cespedes’ strong hitting ability, he could be traded at any point during the season.

This is another simple reason, but due to the current state of trade rumors hitting social media, it is a point that needs to be emphasized. Boston can’t rush, and if they due, they stand a chance of getting the short end of the stick in terms of a trade. The Red Sox have until July 31st to trade Cespedes, and they don’t need to be in a particular rush to do so until then.

The fact that Cespedes is one of the better power bats in baseball, compiled with the fact that he is a right hander makes him the ideal trade target for a team looking to win a World Series and in need of a strong middle order bat.. If the Red Sox find themselves out of contention or needing to make room for a player like Betts later in the season, they can rest assured that someone will need a player like Cespedes for the final slog of the season.

This isn’t to say that if the ideal trade proposal comes along now, in winter meetings, or during Spring Training that Boston should reject it. Hypothetically speaking, if the offer would pose to improve the team rather than hinder, Cherington should pull the trigger without a doubt. But, currently, the worst case situation is that the Red Sox start the year with Cespedes in the outfield with many other options behind him as insurance.

If the plan is to roll with Betts from the get-go, then it’s good that Boston is looking forward, but starting the season with Betts in the outfield could be detrimental to both his progress and the teams record if he underperforms and a player would not be able to take over. Though it is reasonable to want to give Betts a go after he produced a .291/.368/.444 in his short stint in the majors, Cespedes could prove to be insurance on the gamble Boston could potentially be taking.

While the intention is clear in that Betts should be the certified starter for the Red Sox, keeping Betts at Triple-A would protect the Red Sox at four positions, while allowing the prospect to continue his development in the minor leagues, potentially seeing a larger role and more plate appearances.

With Pedroia, Ramirez, Victorino and Craig all having injury plagued pasts, the likelihood that all of these players remain healthy for an entire year is slim to none. This could very well result in Betts developing further prior to being called up and then getting a fair share of at-bats later into the season.

Last season, when Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. failed to perform well right off the bat, the Sox were unprepared to replace them with veteran options meaning that keeping Cespedes could provide much needed depth whether used or not.

Retaining Yoenis Cespedes is a move that could help serve as insurance for Boston, while also keeping one of the more develop power hitters of the game available when required. Trading Cespedes could be a move Ben Cherington and the Boston Red Sox regret if he proves to play to the level he is capable of competing at.

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