The Red Sox are back, baby!
With David Price in the fold and inactivity across the AL East, the Sox are becoming unquestionable favorites in the eastern division. Boston’s new man in charge, Dave Dombrowski, has been quick to improve a last place team and insists, “all major moves are likely done,” but I believe Mr. Dombrowski should consider one more “blockbuster” deal before the team heads to Spring Training, a major move that could not only bring an experienced pitcher to Fenway Park, but also rid the Red Sox of their biggest problem on the diamond.
A James Shields for Pablo Sandoval deal on the surface seems pretty fair, as both have their teams itching to move them and both have needs at the respective position. The Padres need to move pitching and could use a serious upgrade at third base. The Padres ended Will Middlebrooks‘s tenure in San Diego last week by non-tendering him and making him a free agent, and in the same day moved incumbent first baseman Yonder Alonso north to Oakland for Drew Pomeranz. This should force San Diego’s hand in moving current third baseman Yangervis Solarte over to first and opening up a spot for a third baseman to come in.
Panda makes a lot of sense for San Diego for a few reasons. First of all, his ability to hit into the gaps should transition well in PETCO Park. Second, his knowledge and experience in the NL West should entice San Diego. Finally, doesn’t anyone remember when A.J. Preller went after Sandoval? Reports noted that his offer was comparable and maybe even more than Boston’s. I believe because of all of these reasons even despite the train wreck of a season Pablo had and all the money he’s still owed, the Padres could find him enticing in a trade.
Now onto the Red Sox part of this deal. While the Sox already have depth at the starting pitching after the David Price acquisition, I believe they should take the opportunity to add a veteran arm like James Shields when it presents itself. Shields is a fierce competitor who has years of experience in the AL East from his time in Tampa. He’s due around $21 million a year for the next three seasons, but subtracting Sandoval’s deal from the mix makes it an even $4 million Boston would have to take on in this trade. This would also provide Boston with some much-needed flexibility down the road as Shields will come off the books a year earlier than Sandoval and could give Boston some money to lock up its young guns in Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts.
Finally, the Red Sox could then use third base to give someone like Travis Shaw some at-bats to provide cheap production while we wait for either Rafael Devers or Yoan Moncada to claim the hot corner next season.
While it might be a bit ambitious and questionable for both teams, I believe this deal could turn into a real win-win for these ball clubs. As while both are on the decline as players, the need for both teams at their respective positions and desire for each player from the clubs could be the things that get this deal done.