Though Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington essentially indicated to the media on Friday that it would not make sense to trade Josh Beckett and subtract from the rotation, numerous reporters have written that the club is actively shopping the embattled veteran.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that the Braves are a team the Red Sox have talked to about Beckett. Passan also indicated that the Dodgers could be interested in 32-year-old right-hander, who is 5-9 with a 4.57 ERA this season.
The Rangers, which have lost right-hander Colby Lewis for the season and have seen Roy Oswalt deal with back issues, need a starting pitcher. They were linked to Zack Greinke before he was traded to the rival Los Angeles Angels.
Miami apparently wants a haul of top prospects for Josh Johnson that Texas does not want to meet. Philadelphia could make left-hander Cliff Lee available, but he has a costly contract that includes $25 million a year through 2015 and a $27.5 million team option for 2016.
Beckett has “10-5” trade rights and can dictate if and where he is traded, but his comments over the weekend offer the impression that he would approve a deal for the right situation. Beckett told WEEI’s Rob Bradford that if the team doesn’t want him, why would he stay?
The Rangers could be an ideal match, if Boston is willing to pick up a bulk of the estimated $37-plus million that is left on his contract. He is from Texas, and the presence of Nolan Ryan could have a positive impact on Beckett’s attitude.
Bradford said today that the Braves are not in position to take on Beckett’s salary, even if the Red Sox pay a chunk of what he is owed through 2014. The Beckett trade to Texas idea makes sense, though.
Last September, before Boston’s monumental collapse, Beckett had a 2.49 ERA. Since that point, he has not only been inconsistent on the mound, but his work ethic has been questioned, and he has been the source of tension with episodes like his part in Red Sox starters drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games when they were not pitching last season and playing golf on an off day earlier this year even though he was scratched from an outing due to an injury.
Could be Win-Win for Red Sox
Ironically, it could be a win-win situation for the Red Sox with Beckett regardless of whether he is traded or remains with the team.
If he is dealt, the Red Sox would rid themselves of a player who has created clubhouse drama and has underperformed on the mound. Even though they will have to pay a bulk of the remaining $37 million on his contract if they part ways with him, and they will likely get little in return, it will be addition by subtraction, much like when the club traded Kevin Youkilis earlier this season.
The Red Sox can insert 26-year-old left-hander Franklin Morales into the rotation. He has a 3.42 ERA in five starts this season and could give the rotation a spark.
If Beckett stays in Boston after Tuesday’s trade deadline, he could have a resurgence after reading and listening to all the negative comments about him – from fans who despise him, media members who chastise him and quotes from anonymous major league team executives who have reportedly said Beckett is not worth taking on his salary and the baggage that he would bring.
Beckett has an enormous ego, and he was one of the top starters in the American League last season until September. If he is not dealt before Tuesday afternoon, Beckett is scheduled to take the mound that night against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
His turnaround could begin then at Fenway Park, or during his first start with another team if he is shipped out of Boston.