For the second straight year, the Boston Red Sox are off to a rough start. After their historic collapse last season, you know this is the last thing they and their fans wanted. On top of that, injuries are starting to mount. First was closer Andrew Bailey. Then yesterday, Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a nasty-looking shoulder injury that will keep him out at least six weeks, but likely more based on what I’ve been reading.
Ellsbury is a huge loss, as he was an MVP-type player last season. The question for them is how to adequately replace him. The player they called up, Che-Hsuan Lin, certainly isn’t the answer. He has a .618 OPS in his AAA career. With the Red Sox off to a slow start, might they be willing to overpay for an established player?
Generally, it is very difficult to find a trading partner this early in the season. Teams aren’t willing to deal players until it becomes more clear they won’t be contending. But the Brewers offer a unique situation. I’ve already written about their outfield logjam and that I would consider trading Nyjer Morgan. Now it seems the Brewers would have a taker. Morgan would be a perfect fill in for Ellsbury, even down to being left-handed. More importantly, the Brewers could actually be willing to trade him. Either one of Logan Schafer or Caleb Gindl seems ready to go, and Norichika Aoki has been impressive. I wouldn’t feel worried at all with Aoki filling in for Morgan’s half of the center field platoon.
So, what would the Brewers get from Boston? Safe to say it won’t be a reliever, even though the Brewers could use one. With Andrew Bailey out, their pen is in a bit of disarray right now. I certainly wouldn’t mind someone able to play shortstop who would allow the Brewers to say goodbye to Cesar Izturis. The Red Sox won’t trade slick fielding prospect Jose Iglesias, but perhaps they’d be willing to trade Mike Aviles and give Iglesias the job. Iglesias nearly won the job out of Spring Training, anyway.
Still, the most likely scenario would likely be a prospect coming back. Boston likely prefers not to trade anyone from their big league team. While it might seem counter-productive for a team like the Brewers, who are clearly going for a playoff spot, to trade a big league player for a prospect, it’s not unprecedented. They traded Gabe Gross for Josh Butler early in 2008, and I would argue that Gross was less replaceable on that team than Morgan is on this one (remember how nice it would have been to have Gross’ lefty bat when Corey Hart was so bad at the end of 2008?)
There is a chance the Brewers could take advantage a bit of Boston’s tough situation and net a pretty nice prospect for Morgan–maybe someone toward the bottom of their top ten prospects list. That would be a great return on a player. Trading a nothing prospect for him a year ago, getting a year of great production, and then flipping him for a much better prospect wouldn’t be a bad way to go at all. Plus, it frees up a bit of cash for a potential trade later in the season.
I feel like this makes too much sense on paper to happen, but I guess we’ll see.