Matthew Pouliot

Nate Schierholtz

Tigers, Pirates in touch with Cubs


The Cubs still have pieces on the table after dealing Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano, and’s Patrick Mooney says the Pirates and Tigers have been sniffing around in advance of this afternoon’s trade deadline.

The Pirates are most likely interested in Nate Schierholtz to help with their right-field situation. Schierholtz has been a very pleasant surprise this year, hitting .272/.332/.517 with 14 homers and 43 RBI in 290 at-bats. Pirates right fielders as a whole have hit .231/.294/.366 with nine homers and 37 RBI in 407 at-bats.

The Tigers are still looking for bullpen help, and they’re probably more interested in lefty James Russell than closer Kevin Gregg, though both are candidates to be dealt today.

The Cubs also have outfielder David DeJesus, infielder Luis Valbuena and catcher Dioner Navarro to sell. DeJesus, though, only recently returned from a shoulder injury, and he’s more likely to go in a waiver deal next month. Valbuena could be handy to a contender as a left-handed-hitting part-timer at third and second, and a trade would free up the Cubs’ third-base spot for the newly acquired Mike Olt. The 29-year-old Navarro has been terrific in his limited role this year, batting .294/.370/.510 with nine homers in 143 at-bats, but catcher hasn’t been a popular position in trade talks this month, as most of the contenders are pretty well set.

Could it be Xander Bogaerts time in Boston? (UPDATE: Not quite yet)

Xander Bogaerts

Jose Iglesias was fading offensively, but he was still a major part of the 2013 Red Sox when he was shipped out as part of the three-team Jake Peavy deal Tuesday night. In announcing the trade, the Red Sox declined to discuss the particularly of how he’d be replaced as the team’s third baseman against right-handers and backup shortstop, saying only that they’d likely make a callup Wednesday.

Even before the Iglesias trade, the Red Sox were being talked about as a suitor for the Phillies’ Michael Young, and he now seems like a legitimate fit with Iglesias gone.  He delivered his eighth homer for the Phillies on Tuesday, and he’s batting a solid .279/.345/.411 on the season. His defense, though, leaves much to be desired.

The Red Sox do have internal alternatives. Three of them, in fact:

– Will Middlebrooks – The team’s starting third baseman until a lengthy slump, combined with strong play from Iglesias, got him demoted to the majors in late June. He started off well for Triple-A Pawtucket, but he’s hit just .243/.297/.398 with 22 strikeouts in 103 at-bats in July. He came in at .192/.228/.389 with nine homers in 203 at-bats before being sent down.

– Brock Holt – Strictly a stopgap. Holt hasn’t hit up to expectations in Triple-A, coming in at .264/.328/.293 in 239 at-bats, but he did do a nice job during his stint with the Red Sox earlier this month, hitting .290 with three walks and just two strikeouts in 31 at-bats. Even though he didn’t have an extra-base hit, he managed to drive in eight runs. A nice thing about Holt is that he’s a left-handed batter, so he could be used in a true platoon with Brandon Snyder, who has been starting against lefties anyway. Unlike Middlebrooks, he also qualifies as a backup shortstop, though he’s not someone a team would want starting there for any length of time.

– Xander Bogaerts – The top prospect. The guy they wouldn’t trade for Cliff Lee. Bogaerts was left at shortstop all year until the Red Sox finally eased him over to third with five starts over the last couple of weeks. The 20-year-old has hit .295/.396/.491 with 14 homers between Double- and Triple-A this year, and he’s easily the hottest hitter in the group, coming in at .302/.423/.512 in July. He’s a better shortstop than Holt, and there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll prove adept at third base with more reps. Ideally, he’d get at least another 7-10 days to work at the position before his callup. The Red Sox, though, might not to wait.

Frankly, I don’t see how Middlebrooks can be Boston’s choice, not unless the team jettisons Snyder and replaces him with a backup middle infielder. Neither Middlebrooks nor Snyder can serve as a backup at shortstop and second. I suspect that the Red Sox will call up Holt and continue to work Bogaerts third base in Triple-A with the idea of giving him a look in mid-August, but I’d hardly be shocked if they just tried Bogaerts now. He’s a special talent, a lot like Manny Machado was last year when the Orioles called him up after just two games at third base in the minors. That worked out OK for them.


3:10 a.m. EDT update: Looks like the Holt guess was right. A Red Sox source told WEEI’s Rob Bradford that he’d be the initial choice to replace Iglesias on the roster

Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers finalize three-team Jake Peavy deal

Jake Peavy

It’s official. The Red Sox have acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers as part of a three-team trade. The Tigers picked up shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston. The White Sox are getting outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers and three lower level prospects from the Red Sox: shortstop Cleuluis Rondon, RHP Francellis Montas and RHP Jeffrey Wendelken.

The addition of Peavy, who is owed $14.5 million next year, gives Boston added protection in case Clay Buchholz struggles to return from his neck problems down the stretch. It’s expensive insurance, though, with no guarantee that Peavy is much of an upgrade over Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront in a projected four-man postseason rotation that also includes Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Of course, the Red Sox have to worry about reaching the postseason first.

Peavy is 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA and a 76/17 K/BB ratio over 80 innings in 13 starts this season. He missed time earlier in the year with a broken rib. His biggest problem has been the home run ball  — he’s allowed 14 — but switching from U.S. Cellular to Fenway will help there.

Iglesias, a Rookie of the Year candidate who was hitting .330/.377/.409 in 215 at-bats for the Red Sox, makes a great deal of sense for Detroit with Jhonny Peralta facing a Biogenesis suspension of at least 50 games. He gives the Tigers the rangy shortstop they need to put next to Miguel Cabrera, and while Peralta may get his job back at the very end of the year, there’s little doubt that it’ll be Iglesias next year, with Peralta presumably moving on in free agency.

The 22-year-old Garcia was talked up last year as a big piece of the Tigers’ future. His resemblance to Cabrera in the batter’s box probably helped in that regard. This year, he had hit .382/.414/.549 in 144 at-bats in Triple-A, but just .241/.273/.373 in 83 at-bats in the majors, and the Tigers deemed him expendable with fellow outfield prospect Nick Castellanos also knocking on the door. Plate discipline is an issue for Garcia, and while scouts expect his power to come, his high home run total in six minor league seasons is 14. Whether the White Sox use him right away could hinge on an Alex Rios deal. For now, though, he’s been optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

The departure of Iglesias makes third base a question mark for Boston, fueling rumors that a deal for the Phillies’ Michael Young could follow. Barring a trade, the Red Sox will have to decide whether to promote Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt or No. 1 prospect Xander Bogaerts from Triple-A to pair with or, more likely, start over Brandon Snyder at third. Bogaerts, a natural shortstop, is outhitting Middlebrooks in Triple-A, but he’s played just five games at third since getting a look there earlier in the month. The Red Sox also now have to weigh in the fact that Bogaerts is again clearly the shortstop of the future with Iglesias gone.

Villarreal, going from Detroit to Boston, has a 4.56 ERA and an 86/46 K/BB ratio in 75 innings as a major leaguer. He seemed to be on his way to emerging as a key piece in the Tigers bullpen last year, but control became an especially big problem late and he was left off the postseason roster. This year has been a disaster for him, but the fresh start could do him some good. He throws 94-98 mph, so he has some upside as a short reliever.

None of the prospects going from Boston to Chicago were viewed as key pieces of the Red Sox system. Rondon, 19, was hitting .276/.326/.350 in short-season ball. Montas, 20, was 2-9 with a 5.70 ERA and a 96/32 K/BB ratio in 85 1/3 innings as a starter for low Single-A Greenville. Wendelken, 20, had a 2.77 ERA and a 54/20 K/BB ratio in 65 innings as a reliever in low-A ball.