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As spring training starts to grind to a halt the Red Sox have several players that may be being showcased for possible trades. Maybe that showcase could also force roster decisions on remaining with Boston?
The iconic game show “The Price Is Right” has what is known as a showcase where contestants have a chance to win some of the more upscale prizes. The showcase term certainly applies to other areas of consumer interest. Just wander into the high-end jewelry store and they showcases have the pricey and sometimes the less pricey items on display. The Red Sox also have their own showcase that is in full operation.
Spring training can be a showcase for items on the roster that the shopper – other GM’s – may have an interest in selecting for their team. If the prize is valuable enough negotiations will take place. In the instance of the Red Sox, the showcase can also provide the internal evaluation on just how to proceed with their roster. This spring four players provide a bit of showcase potential.
The most obvious is Blake Swihart whose latest on-field adventure was third base. Swihart has moved around the diamond-like one would at a buffet as the idea – as with the buffet – is to sample each position. Will Swihart become a “super sub?” Maybe the idea is an either or for the Red Sox. As Swihart shows a return to promise his value increases as a potential trade chip. Being out of options presents the Red Sox with a slight roster dilemma regarding the former highly touted prospect.
A most interesting item in the spring showcase collection is Rusney Castillo. Through 3/18 Castillo was hitting in the .300 range, showed some power, and provided good defense. Last season Castillo was an All-Star, but that was in the International League where Castillo was also being paid $11.27 MM. Castillo now has three years left on his contract at approximately $39 MM.
Castillo deserves to be the Red Sox fourth outfielder. In another era, this would not be an issue but adding Castillo to their roster would force back $11.71 MM on to the roster and that means luxury tax. Castillo’s performance at Pawtucket in 2017 and in spring training opens the possibility of finally cutting ties with a bad contract. Undoubtedly the Red Sox would have to kick in money and that is where the wheeling and dealing will take place.
Brock Holt had a lousy 2017 season and 2016 was nothing to fill up Holt’s scrapbook, either. Holt’s issues with statistical deterioration center around injuries most notably vertigo that is a result of at least two known concussions. This spring the versatile Holt is hitting above the .300 mark and may have finally recovered.
Is Holt going elsewhere? With Eduardo Nunez in the fold, Deven Marrero a far better defensive option and Tzu-Wei Lin waiting to sit at the adult’s table Holt could be expendable. The lifeline for Holt is Dustin Pedroia who is not quite ready for prime time after knee surgery. Holt and his $2.25 MM may last until Pedroia returns which will also give an indication if Lin is ready after a month or so with the PawSox.
Brian Johnson is in solid contention for a spot in the rotation. The lefty is a former number one draft pick who is now 27-years-old and on the cusp of make it or break it for his career. This spring Johnson has impressed and has a 2.25 ERA so make it mode may be present.
Johnson – as with Holt – is in a sweet spot over injury questions to Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez. Neither may be ready for the starting bell so that leaves an opening in the rotation for either Johnson or his main competition right-handed Hector Velazquez. With pitching at a premium, the Red Sox could hold and pray to the baseball Gods that a few early season successes could build up either trade value or have the Red Sox finally rewarded for patience.
The showcase will continue as spring training winds down, but the regular season could be a nice extension. Other teams have needs and a positive spring training and the early season could offer an opportunity for Dave Dombrowski’s notorious wheeling and dealing.