McAdam: Sox may make moves sooner rather than later

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McAdam: Sox may make moves sooner rather than later

TAMPA -- The non-waiver trade deadline is nearly three weeks away, and in the past, the Red Sox have pulled off some of their biggest July deals at literally the last minute.
The complex three-team Manny Ramirez deal took place with seconds to spare in 2008 and recent deals involving Victor Martinez (2009) and Eric Bedard (2011) took place in the minutes before the deadline.
But this year, external forces might force the Red Sox to move sooner.
The imminent return of outfielders Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, while welcome, will create a logjam of outfielders for the Red Sox roster, which could speed up the timetable for some deals.
Two weeks ago, the Red Sox were forced to designate Darnell McDonald when a numbers crunch hit the roster. McDonald, while a member of the Red Sox for the past two and a half seasons, had little value on the trade market.
But that won't be the case for a number of outfielders under the team's control. And already, there's a surplus on hand. While at least two of the three outfielders who could be moved still have options remaining and could be stashed at Pawtucket short-term, it behooves the club to move one (or more) sooner rather than later.

-- Scott Podsednik, who came off the disabled list last week following a groin strain, has been optioned to Pawtucket, with no available spot on the roster.
Obtained earlier this season in a minor trade with the Phillies, Podsednik showed a renewed ability to get on base in 19 games with the Sox and is capable of playing an adequate left and center field.
In a few weeks time, Podsednik succeeded in re-establishing some value and with no spot available for him upon the return of Crawford and Ellsbury, the Red Sox would be wise to get something for him while they still can.
Even if Podsednik isn't necessarily viewed as an everyday player by many clubs, his skill set (speed, on-base ability, defense) is perpetually in demand by clubs looking to improve their depth for the final two months.

-- Daniel Nava, whose play over the last two months has re-ignited his career, could be another piece in demand.
Since being promoted -- frankly out of desperation, when the Sox had seven outfielders on the DL at the same time -- Nava has shown himself to be a much-improved defender in left.
Moreover, having taken over as essentially the everyday leadoff hitter for the Sox for the past month, Nava has comiled a .388 on-base percentage.
Most scouts would argue that Nava is better suited as a depth option off the bench rather than an everyday contributor, but with so many teams on the periphery of the playoff race, there's no shortage of demand for valuable pieces like Nava.
Like Podsednik, Nava's value has never been higher, and may never be this high again. With Crawford signed to a long-term deal, Ellsbury under control through the end of 2013, Ryan Kalish ready to contribute from Pawtucket and highly-valued outfield prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz no more than a season and a half away, Nava doesn't have a long-term spot in the Red Sox' outfield.
The time to move him is now.

-- Ryan Sweeney was, for a time earlier this season, the most dependable major league outfielder the Red Sox had. Indeed, even with return of Crawford and Ellsbury, the case can be made that Sweeney remains the team's best outfield defender, capable of playing all three outfield spots.
But with Crawford, Ellsbury and Cody Ross viewed as the starting outfield soon, Sweeney has been relegated to a back-up role and he could serve as an interesting trading chip.
It's important not to overstate Sweeney's appeal. He has next-to-no home run power -- he's without one in 192 plate appearances this season -- and his .400 slugging percentage is telling.
But Sweeney can hit for average, provide the occasional double and is a plus defender. He would excel as part of a platoon or the first outfielder off the bench for a team in contention. Sweeney is still just 27 and is under control for another season and a half.

Top prospect Yoan Moncada will join Red Sox on Friday

Top prospect Yoan Moncada will join Red Sox on Friday

BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox have announced they will call up top prospect Yoan Moncada when rosters expand from the current 25-man limit.

Earlier Wednesday, Farrell wouldn't officially confirm the imminent promotion but hinted that the Red Sox appeared ready to call up their top prospect.

Farrell first noted that the Red Sox "need better production'' at third base, where both Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill have struggled mightily at the position.

Moncada, a natural second baseman, was shifted to third base earlier this month at Double A Portland. Moncada has a slash line of .285/.388/.547 with 11 homers and 27 RBI in 44 games.

Asked specifically about the potential of a call-up for Moncada, Farrell said: "We've talked about Yoan. And not just as a pinch-runner. It's an exciting young player, an extremely talented guy. There's all positive reviews and evaluations of him.

"When that major league experience is going to initiate, time will tell that. But in terms of playing the position of third base [in the big leagues], that conversation has been had.''

Previously, the Red Sox had resisted bringing Moncada to the big leagues, worried that he wouldn't be in the lineup often enough to continue his development. The Sox didn't want him to miss out on additional experience in the minors by playing only part-time in the majors.

But now that the minor league seasons are about to end -- Portland finishes Labor Day -- there's nothing in the minors for Moncada to miss.

"This is a different scenario than if it were July or early August,'' said Farrell. "The minor league season ends [soon], so is there benefit to him just being here? The answer to that is yes. Do you weigh playing 'X' number of games per week versus what he could be doing at Portland or Pawtucket? Well, that goes away [with the minor league regular seasons end].

"So, again, by all accounts, there's nothing but positives that could come out of experience here -- if that were to happen.''

 Moncada's promotion is similar to the one experience by Xander Bogaerts in 2013, who was brought up in the final week of August 2013 and remained with the club all the way through the end of the team's World Series run that fall, taking playing time from struggling third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

 "For those who have been around this team for a number of years,'' said Farrell, "teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team through the postseason. I think Yoan would be in a similar category to when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], when Jake [Jacoby Ellsbury] came into the picture. And Andrew (Benintendi) is already here, so I wouldn't separate [Moncada] out from that at all.

"In fact, he's a direct comparison [to those cases].’’

Farrell agreed that the arrival of a young, highly-touted player can inject some energy into a team in the throes of a pennant race.

"Absolutely, there is,'' said Farrell. "You've got a newness element. You've got, likely, above-average speed. You've got athleticism. You've got the unknown across the field on how does a given [opposing] team attack a given guy.

"In the cases we've talked about, it has been beneficial to us for the young player to come up. They find a way to contribute in a meaningful role. "

Without saying that Moncada's promotion was a definite,  he said "there's a lot [of positives]going for it.''

Farrell also acknowledged that the Sox held internal discussions about how Moncada would be utilized, given that the switch-hitter has been far more productive from the left side of the plate.

"We've talked about what's strong side, how do you look to best ease him in, so to speak,'' said Farrell. "We thought that with Benintendi, how do we best ease him in. Well, he blew the doors off of that one [with his early success]. So, if it happens, and if begins here soon, you'll all be aware.''

Farrell said the reports of Moncada's transition to third base have been encouraging despite three errors in his first nine games there.

"He's shown good range, an above-average arm,'' said Farrell. "Where there will be ongoing work and continued development, just as there was at second base, is the ball hit straight at him. That's just pure technique and fundamental positioning with hands and feet.

"But as far as range to his glove side, moving to third base, that seemingly has not been that big of a challenge for him.''