The Miami Marlins have a salary problem.
The Boston Red Sox have a talent problem.
Let the games begin between new Marlins owner Derek Jeter and gunslinging general manager Dave Dombrowski of the Red Sox.
Jeter intends to keep the Marlins at a $90 million dollar payroll next season, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. This would force the Marlins to cut $50 million from their estimated $140 million current payroll. With such a massive salary cut in store, it seems no one on the Marlins roster is safe. It’s clear the Marlins are ready to hit the reset button and enter a complete rebuild.
On the contrary, Dombrowski witnessed quite a disappointment to a once promising Red Sox season. A team enriched with young talent in the field, and a pair of young aces in Chris Sale and David Price. A pitcher coming off a Cy Young season in Rick Porcello — who crashed and burned this season — and one of the best closers in the game in Craig Kimbrel. None of it was good enough, as the Red Sox were eliminated from the ALDS to the Houston Astros in dominating fashion. While the Boston’s pitching was a disaster against Houston, the offense was even more pathetic for the second consecutive playoffs, leaving big changes to be made.
Despite the financial pressure for Jeter — a former Yankees legend — to cut payroll, the metaphorical hot stove is burning for Dombrowski to help this Red Sox team —a former rival of Jeter’s — to breakthrough. Fans of Boston are growing increasingly impatient with the lack of postseason improvement, especially after the plethora of moves he’s made in his time in Boston. Jeter needs to ship players out of town, and Boston is a great match, but the pressure is on Dombrowski to make a deal with the Marlins, not the other way around.
What Marlins players could Dombrowski pursue via trade?
Home-run king Giancarlo Stanton would make a ton of sense for both sides by fixing Miami’s salary problem while vastly improving Boston’s power problem, who were 27th in the Major’s (last in the American League) in home runs.
Stanton is not the only upgrade for Boston to acquire, as Marcell Ozuna could also provide a major offensive boost to the outfield. Ozuna would require a less substantial trade package from Boston, who would be able to add without making major subtractions from their roster. Additionally, Boston would be able to pay Ozuna, who will seek a large contract in 2020 that Miami may not be inclined to pay.
Christian Yelich is less of a power upgrade, but still provides consistent hitting for the Red Sox’ inconsistent Jackie Bradley Jr. Yelich’s contract comes at an astoundingly cheap price until 2023, but the asking price the Marlins hold may be steep for a player in his prime who is handcuffed to such an affordable contract. Nonetheless, Yelich is a less sexy but sufficient plan-c for Boston’s outfield.
Boston Red Sox acquire: Giancarlo Stanton
Miami Marlins acquire: Xander Bogaerts, Sam Travis and Jason Groome
The Red Sox finally get their bat in Stanton without losing Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi. While the loss of young and promising Xander Bogaerts hurts, gaining Stanton (59 HR) makes the pill easier to swallow. With the acquisition of Stanton, They’ll have to move one of Betts, Benintendi or Bradley Jr. to avoid a crowded outfield.
Marlins gain a top-10 shortstop in baseball who just turned 25 years old. While Bogaerts hasn’t yet reached his offensive potential, many think he can reach 25 HR and hit for .300 average if he can avoid his agonizing inconsistencies at the plate.
First baseman Sam Travis is a highly regarded prospect who is expected to hit for average with some pop. While the right-handed batter isn’t expected to mash 30+ home runs, he draws comparisons to former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis.
Jason Groom is the Red Sox’ best pitching prospect, and is also one of the most highly regarded pitching prospects in America. Some scouts have even gone as far as comparing his stuff to Clayton Kershaw’s. Because of Stanton’s large contract, Miami is limited in what they can receive from Boston, and this may be one of the most attractive deals they receive.
Boston Red Sox acquire: Marcell Ozuna
Miami Marlins acquire: Eduardo Rodriguez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sam Travis
The Red Sox are getting a potential breakout young star in Ozuna, who hit for a .312 average, 37 HR and 124 RBI. While Boston may be wary of Ozuna having a one-hit-wonder season, the previous years have shown Ozuna is capable of hitting for average and power. Playing in a city like Boston in front of a fanbase who is unforgiving is much different than playing behind Giancarlo Stanton and Miami’s relaxed fans. Nonetheless, Boston gains a much needed bat without having to trade away their core stars. It’ll be tough for Red Sox fans to say goodbye to one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, but JBJ hasn’t produced enough at the plate to warrant a stay in Boston.
Miami continues to cut salary by trading Ozuna — a player they may not be able to afford in the upcoming years. While Ozuna had an incredible year, Miami will have to hear the counterpoint of Ozuna never having this much success in the past. It’s tough to know how big of a package Miami can fetch for Ozuna, but before we start asking for a team’s entire farm system, we must remember the next couple of free agent classes are stacked with bats. Many teams are positioning themselves for a run at some of the biggest stars in the game, and may be less inclined to trade for bats that require huge returns.
Eduardo Rodriguez is young pitcher (24) who has a lot of potential. Despite battling injuries the past couple of years, Rodriguez struck out 150 batters and had a 4.19 ERA in about 137 innings. His powerful fastball and changeup combo had batters guessing throughout the season, and if he can locate his slider with more consistency, he may be able to breakthrough into a No. 2 pitcher. Rodriguez must keep his pitch count to a limit, as he rarely goes more than six innings. The young, controllable pitcher would make a nice addition to Miami’s starting rotation for years to come.
JBJ had a tough season at the plate, hitting .245 with 17 HR and 63 RBI. Just when Boston thought he was going to play to his potential after last season’s .267/26/87 season, Bradley Jr. took a step back at the plate. His offense isn’t a lost cause, but he needs to avoid striking out so much and do a better job of hitting with two strikes. JBJ is one of the smoothest outfielders in the game, making highlight catches practically every night, combined with one of the best arms in baseball. He’ll never be Ozuna at the plate, but he can definitely be Yelich.
Boston Red Sox acquire: Christian Yelich
Miami Marlins acquire: JBJ, Alex Scherff and Cole Brannen
This wouldn’t be a huge upgrade for Boston, but a more reliable one nonetheless. Yelich doesn’t solve Boston’s desperate need for power, but he adds more offensive stability to the outfield by being a more well-rounded batter. He’ll get on base for the Red Sox more and strikeout less than JBJ would. Again, this a plan-c move for Boston. Miami would make this move to dump salary and a long-term commitment to Yelich.
Scherff is a right-handed pitcher who throws very hard (high 90s), with a devastating change up and decent slider. Baseball America ranked him the No. 43 prospect entering the 2017 draft. While it’s unclear if he’ll be a starter or reliever, his stuff would make an excellent addition to the bullpen at the very least.
The left-handed hitting Brannen batted .439 with five homers, 23 doubles and three triples in 82 at-bats during his senior year of high school. The scouts for the Red Sox see a five-tool player in Brannen, who runs the bases very well and has some power to compliment his swing.
These packages aren’t likely to be completely accurate, but the foundation of each is a good starting point for both teams.
What team will crack first?
We don’t know what to expect from Jeter; but when Dombrowski sees a player he wants, he gets them.
By any means necessary.