A Possible Trade for the Red Sox
By Bob Owens
As most people know, last August the Boston Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a Red Sox fan, I feel that trade was justified, yet it created a huge void for the team at first base, both on their 40-man roster and the lower levels of their minor-league system. And that lack of depth was magnified this off-season, as the Sox were very willing to sign Mike Napoli to a 3-year contract only to withhold their John Hancock once they performed a physical on Napoli and discovered that he has avascular necrosis on both hips, the same type of injury that Bo Jackson and Floyd Landis had.
Because of these findings, the Red Sox reduced the 3-year offer to a 1-year deal and decreased his per-year guaranteed money from 13 million bucks to $5 million. These revisions clearly indicate that they have concerns. However, the fact they still offered him a deal also indicates the lack of depth in their system. So I decided to enmesh myself in a trade possiblity with the objective being that fans of both teams say is legitimate, not some lopsided you are a Sox homerish asshole. ( Which I am, but that is besides the point.)
I looked at 4 teams, Braves (Freddie Freeman) the Cubs (Anthony Rizzo, a former Sox prospect that they parted with to get Gonzalez) the Giants (Brandon Belt) and the Angels (Albert Pujols) who could be blocking upcoming 1b prospects in their own organization.
I dismissed the Cubs, as I do not see the those 2 dealing with each other.
I also looked at teams that I felt had a realistic shot at making the post-season. These 2 pieces of criteria led me straight to the Angels, who have plenty of 1b options behind the HOF bound Pujols. Mark Trumbo can play play that position, and I would not be surprised to see the newly-signed Josh Hamilton learn the position once Pujols becomes a DH (circa 2015 -and before anyone snickers about that possibility, I remind you that Darin Erstad played both center fielder and 1b for Mike Scoscia).
And after reviewing the Angels prospect list, I saw the name C.J. Cron on most lists as one their better prospects. I also know that the Angels are in a win now mode after signing Hamilton and making sure that Mike Trout is on their opening-day roster. I also read that they may lack a little bit of depth in their starting pitching.
Enter the Red Sox. They are coming off- a last place finish in the AL East, and saw Toronto scarf up a boatload of talent from the Marlins and Mets. They still have to compete against a Tampa team led by Cy Young winner David Price, and MVP candidate Evan Longoria plus ROY favorite Wil Myers, a Yankee team that refuses to miss the playoffs and a newly energized Baltimoe Oriole team. In other words, the Sox have their work cut out for them. So would it be possible for the Sox to trade Jon Lester for C.J. Cron? Lester is a proven lefty who has battled the AL East, small ballparks and cancer and has won against all three obstacles. He is entering his age 29 season and has a team friendly contract through 2014 $11.6 million this year and a team option for 2014 of $13MM or a 250k buyout after this year. The Angels can afford that.
Now in 2 years in the minors, Cron a former 1st round pick from the University of Utah has pit up a slash line of .296/.337/.540 with 40 homers, better than anyone the Sox currently have in their system.
Again, I do not expect this trade to happen right now, and perhaps the Sox surprise me and others by staying in the hunt all season long. However I do know this. The Marlins will not ask for Jon Lester in a package when they are forced to deal Mike Stanton. Might Cron entice them as part of a package? Well that is another story altogether.