Lackey signing could put BoSox in deal mode

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lackey exit.jpgThis is the most stunned I’ve been by a Red Sox transaction during the Theo Epstein era. I like to think I’m usually on the same page with the Boston braintrust when it comes to which players to pursue. But I fully expected the Red Sox to come out of this winter with Matt Holliday, Jason Bay or maybe an Adrian Beltre/Mike Cameron combination, as well as some high-upside pitching. I didn’t see them anteing up for Lackey, not when next winter’s starting pitcher market is shaping up as vastly superior to this year’s.
But, as it turned out, no one else really stepped up for Lackey. Even though he was perceived as far and away the top free agent pitcher available, no one was willing to give him a better deal than the five-year, $82.5 million pact A.J. Burnett received from the Yankees last winter. So, the Red Sox took the plunge, even though Lackey has had some elbow problems two years running. What also makes it interesting is that they’ve seen the worst of Lackey. He’s 3-7 with a 5.25 ERA against the Red Sox lifetime and 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA at Fenway Park.
So, now the Red Sox have six starters: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield. That’s not surprising — it was a given that they’d add someone this winter — but that they’ve added a top-30 starter, rather than a Rich Harden-type question mark, would seem to make Buchholz more expendable. Of course, Roy Halladay is out now. But Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera are among the superstars that could yet be up for grabs.
My guess is that the Red Sox won’t go that route. If they do trade Buchholz, it could be for a fellow young stud. Milwaukee’s Mat Gamel, Cleveland’s Matt LaPorta and Texas’ Justin Smoak would be possible targets, though I doubt the last two would be available. In Chris Carter, Brett Wallace, Aaron Cunningham, Daric Barton and Sean Doolittle, the A’s have more corner bats than they can play and could put together a nice package.
But I think Buchholz stays and Wakefield either opens the season on the DL or in the bullpen. Buchholz is going to be needed in 2011 and beyond, and it’s easier to find cheap hitters that quality starters.
That’s what the Red Sox might do now. They should still have the cash to sign Adrian Beltre to play third base if they wish, but they still have the flexibility to put Kevin Youkilis in third base and they have Casey Kotchman at first and Jeremy Hermida in left, both of whom have flashed real potential in the past. Both won’t be starters on Opening Day, but one might.
My guess is that the Red Sox add Beltre to play third and pursue Jonny Gomes to battle Hermida for playing time in left field. It’d complicate things if the Mike Lowell deal doesn’t get done, but the Red Sox only stood to save $3 million with the swap anyway.

Report: Padres have discussed trading Wil Myers for Mariners’ Jean Segura and Mike Leake

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Padres have discussed with the Mariners a potential trade in which outfielder Wil Myers would head to Seattle in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and starter Mike Leake. Leake would need to waive his no-trade clause in order to make the deal work.

Myers has four years and $64 million remaining on his contract with a $20 million club option for 2023 as well. Segura has four years and $58 million remaining with a $17 million club option for 2023. Leake is under contract for two more years with $36 million remaining as well as an $18 million mutual option for 2021.

This past season, Myers battled elbow, oblique, and foot injuries last season, limiting him to 83 games and 343 plate appearances. He hit .253/.318/.446 with 11 home runs, 39 RBI, 39 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases. Myers played all over the field for the Padres, spending time at third base and both outfield corners as well as first base and a brief inning in center. If Myers were to go to Seattle, he would likely handle first base on a full-time basis.

2018 marked an All-Star campaign for Segura, who hit .304/.341/.415 with 10 home runs, 63 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. Baseball Reference tallies him at 13 WAR over the last three seasons, so he would certainly be an impact player for the Padres. Rosenthal suggests Segura could handle shortstop for the Padres until top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. is ready. Segura would then move to second base. Alternatively, Tatis could potentially move to third base.

Leake, 31, is essentially a throw-in player in the deal. This past season, the right-hander put up middling numbers, finishing 10-10 with a 4.36 ERA and a 119/34 K/BB ratio in 185 2/3 innings. He would have no problem slotting into the Padres’ rotation.

Rosenthal takes care to point out that this suggested deal is not believed to be close, but it is notable that such a swap is being considered. On Monday, the Mariners traded starter James Paxton to the Yankees. The Mariners are believed to be setting their sights further down the line to be competitive. It could become a full-blown rebuilding effort. It’s a shame because the Mariners had a solid 2018, finishing 89-73, but they finished 14 games behind the Astros and were even eight games behind the second-place Athletics. The way front offices approach competing these days, finishing above .500 but out of the postseason isn’t good enough.