With the 2013 MLB trade deadline just one day away, teams in the American League East are looking to improve for the final two months of the season. The Boston Red Sox recently fell out of first place, and the New York Yankees trail three teams for the final wild card spot. Both appear to be in discussions to add players within the next 24 hours.
Boston has been one of the best teams in baseball all year long. They’ve won on the strength of their hitting, though, and could use some help in the rotation. While the market for starting pitchers has been, somewhat, thin this year, there is one star that could be had at the right price.
The Philadelphia Phillies are a longshot to make the postseason. In the midst of a second straight disappointing year, the club is considering moving some of its veteran players, including Cliff Lee. Despite the Phillies struggles, Lee has remained of the best pitchers in the majors. This season, he made his third All-Star team in the past four years. Through his first 20 starts, the lefty is 10-4 with a 3.16 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He’s struck out 131 batters, compared to walking just 22.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, no team has been as engaged in as many trade talks about Lee as the Red Sox. Boston is looking to win their third World Series in the past decade and acquiring Lee might make them the favorites to win the 2013 title. Lee’s contract, which will pay him $77.5 million from 2014-2016, will likely scare off a lot of teams, but Boston is equipped to handle that financial burden. They shed a lot of salary last year in their blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they started the season with a payroll that is $70 million less than the New York Yankees.
The Yankees are looking to make a move of their own, just days after acquiring Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs. They have made inquiries about another outfielder. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that both the Yankees and Cincinnati Reds have inquired with the San Francisco Giants about trading for Hunter Pence.
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San Francisco doesn’t seem to be in any rush to deal Pence, who‘s hitting .277 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI this year. However, he is a free agent at the end of the season and the defending champs are in last place in the National League West. Rosenthal reports that the club would like to keep Pence, but they will listen to offers.
The issue with both the Red Sox and Yankees may be their unwillingness to trade top prospects. Boston would likely have to part with infielder Xander Bogaerts, who is considered by many to be a "can’t-miss" prospect. The Yankees would have to part with one of their young players, in order to obtain Pence. That is not an ideal scenario for New York, who may have to rely on some prospects if they truly hope to lower their payroll in 2014.
The Red Sox, though, could look to the past and see examples where trading young talent paid off. As Rosenthal points out, the club dealt a young Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett in 2005. Beckett was instrumental in helping Boston win the 2007 World Series.
The Yankees may feel it is unnecessary to give up too much for another bat, since they are getting reinforcements from the disabled list. Derek Jeter finally returned on Sunday and appears to be healthy. Curtis Granderson has been working out in Tampa Bay and should return in a few days. The organization may have to prepare for the possibility that Alex Rodriguez will not comeback in 2013. He is suspected for using performance-enhancing drugs, and could face a lengthy suspension.