ESPN's Peter Gammons reported Sunday night that the Boston Red Sox turned down a proposed trade with the Braves that would send first baseman Mark Teixeira to Boston for first baseman Kevin Youkilis and reliever Craig Hansen.
Reports also circulated Sunday that the Red Sox announcers talked about the rumor on the game broadcast, but their account had the Braves as the team that turned down the same trade.
Either way, something is brewing. This seems like a very strong rumor, especially coming from Mr. Red Sox himself, Peter Gammons. And then to have the Red Sox announcers talk about it? Yes, something must be up.
The Braves are, in fact, talking with teams to lay the ground work for a potential Teixeria trade. They still want to see what happens after the All Star Break, with the slim chance they get back in the race in the National League East and in the wildcard hunt. But if they don't, a deal could be possible and even probable. So now is the time to prepare for that possibility.
Boston has long been mentioned as a potential destination for Teixeira, who will command a huge contract this winter. The Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles (near Teixeira's hometown) are the three teams that might be in the hunt for the first baseman and, more importantly, able to afford a big contract. So if the Red Sox see an opportunity to go after him now, a trade would make sense.
The inclusion of Kevin Youkilis in a deal is surprising. Youkilis leads the Red Sox with 63 RBI. He's a fan favorite and a major personality in the Boston clubhouse. So it might be hard to believe they would agree to include him in a trade.
But it's also hard to believe the Braves would turn Youkilis down if he were offered in a trade for Teixeira. He's a year older than Teixeira, but Youkilis is under control for two more years after the 2008 season. The Braves are obviously worried that Teixeira will leave this winter and they'll need a first baseman, and Youkilis would give them his replacement.
Since Youkilis is under control through 2010, the Braves would have a bridge until prospects Freddie Freeman and/or Cody Johnson could be ready to take over. Plus, they'd have a right-handed bat, which is probably the preference to have in replacing Teixeira in the lineup.
Youkilis is a very good hitter. He's hitting .314 this season with 15 home runs and 63 RBI in 328 at bats. Youkilis's on base percentage is .381, and his career OBP is .383. Plus, Youkilis can also play third base, and if the Braves decided they wanted to move Chipper Jones from first to third, they'd have someone who could easily swap places with their star player.
But a trade acquiring Youkilis would not even mean the Braves would be conceding. They might even be better with Youkilis in the lineup compared to Teixeira. Youkilis could hit second, third, fifth, or sixth. He's historically done very well in the second spot in the batting order (.316 for his career), and that might be perfect to generate some offense Chipper Jones and Brian McCann come to the plate.
And the Braves could use Youkilis's personality and makeup on this roster, one that needs some energy and enthusiasm.
Hansen's name is interesting because he was also mentioned in the trade rumor a few years ago when the Braves and Red Sox discussed a deal sending Andruw Jones to Boston. It was Hansen, outfielder Coco Crisp, and pitcher Jon Lester, who is now one of the top young pitchers in the American League. Boston reportedly turned down that trade. But having Hansen's name come up again in a rumor between the two teams makes the rumor sound even more legit.
This is probably the first of several trade rumors we will hear over the next few weeks as the trade deadline approaches. The Braves are unlikely to re-sign Teixeira, who could command a deal near $20 million per season and might want a contract for seven to ten years. So if this team struggles out of the gate in the second half and falls even further behind in the National League East and the wildcard hunt, the rumors are going to get even louder about a potential Teixeira trade before July 31st.
Bill Shanks hosts The Atlanta Baseball Show on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and The Bill Shanks Show on SportsRadio 105.5 the Fan in Macon. He is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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