Could Red Sox Swing a Deal for Starling Marte?
(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)
There’s a chance that the entire Red Sox outfield sees an overhaul in the offseason, as the likes of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Andrew Benintendi have each seen their names turn up in the rumor mill.
But the fact of the matter is that someone in that trio is going to need to be traded to free up salary. Whether that salary is used in a last-ditch effort to extend Mookie Betts or to revamp a bullpen that had its fair share of struggles remains to be seen.
However, the Red Sox do have their fair share of commodities that clubs around the league have taken notice of, especially clubs looking to trade disgruntled players on their roster.
Now, we shift focus to the situation out in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates have been rumored to be shopping center fielder Starling Marte. He’s a player who, despite some durability issues in the past, has seen his career slash-line rest at .287/.341/.452, as well as posting 71 career defensive runs saved and a 3.7 UZR/150 as an outfielder.
He is due $11.5 million in 2020 and has a $12.5 million club option for the 2021 season, a fairly cheap cost for a perennial All-Star outfielder.
That being said, this begs the question: What would it cost the Red Sox to make this deal work?
The Pirates are looking to jump-start their rebuild, while also competing as soon as next season. So, the package designed here is helping them on both fronts.
Red Sox get: OF Starling Marte, cash considerations
Pirates get: OF Jackie Bradley Jr., RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Bryan Mata, international pool money
This trade brings the Red Sox an upgrade at the center-field position. However, Marte is 31 years old, while both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Nathan Eovaldi are entering their age 30 seasons. Not a giant age difference, but Marte being closer to the end of his proverbial prime could cost the Pirates in the trade market.
That being said, Nathan Eovaldi has a 4.39 career ERA with a sub-4.00 FIP against the National League, and there’s no denying that he has the stuff to reach untapped potential even into his 30s.
Jackie Bradley, however, is a free agent after 2020 but is a better defender than Marte, and Bryan Mata is one of the Red Sox’ top pitching prospects and had very impressive peripherals last season in Double-A Portland.
The Red Sox benefit from this contract as, by swapping all salary, walk away from this deal with Starling Marte and $7 million in space under the luxury tax after estimated arbitration money. That way, if they decide to trade Betts afterward, they still have an All-Star caliber outfielder.
Here is what each team’s potential Opening Day lineup could look like after this trade.
Boston Red Sox Pittsburgh Pirates
Mookie Betts RF Kevin Newman SS
Starling Marte CF Bryan Reynolds LF
Rafael Devers 3B Josh Bell 1B
J.D. Martinez DH Gregory Polanco RF
Xander Bogaerts SS Adam Frazier 2B
Andrew Benintendi LF Elias Diaz C
Bobby Dalbec 1B Cole Tucker SS
Christian Vazquez C Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Dustin Pedroia/Michael Chavis 2B Starting Pitcher