Will Middlebrooks: The Boston Red Sox's Other Valuable Trade Chip

Together With Jon Lester, the Two Players Offer Potential Other Teams Need

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | As the trade deadline approaches, the Boston Red Sox need to pull the trigger on two possible trades that improve their pitching staff. Will Middlebrooks and Jon Lester represent the two trade chips involved in realizing these trades.

My article discussing Jon Lester can be found here.

Trade Chip - Will Middlebrooks

Need for Red Sox - Relief pitching

Trade Possibility - Miami Marlins pitchers Chad Qualls, Steve Cishek and other goodies for Will Middlebrooks

On the surface, perhaps this gives you a flashback to 1990 and the famed "Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell" trade with the Houston Astros. For me, it does not approximate that debacle in any way. In that year, Larry Andersen pitched only 15 games for the Boston Red Sox and Jeff Bagwell ... well, you know what Jeff Bagwell did. Bettering the results of that trade would not be difficult.

The Miami Marlins are currently paying an aging Placido Polanco $2.75 million to play 3B. He becomes a free agent in 2014. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Ed Lucas are the only third basemen with major-league experience in their farm system, and both players are 6 to 7 years older than Middlebrooks. For a team on the rebuilding path, Middlebrooks represents a major league-ready, affordable third baseman with the potential to be a star. He also offers youth (aged 24) and major-league experience at 3B. This year has been disappointing, but he commands very little in terms of salary right now ($498,000) and has shown power from the right side. In his major-league career thus far, he is on pace to hit 30 HRs per 162 games played. He has hit 24 home runs in 128 games played.

The Red Sox have depth at 3B with shortstop José Iglesias being groomed to play the position full time and minor-leaguer Xander (don't call me Humphrey) Bogaerts a likely replacement for Stephen Drew at SS in 2014. Parting with Middlebrooks is more than doable as the Red Sox have depth at the position.

What can the Marlins offer?

1. Right-handed relief pitcher Chad Qualls will be a free agent in 2014, has playoff experience and offers an additional bullpen arm. Currently, he has a 1.19 WHIP over 30.1 IP and a 2.97 ERA. The Red Sox could ask the Marlins to pay out his $1.15 million for 2013.

2. Steve Cishek is a right-handed relief pitcher from Massachusetts with a WHIP of 1.08. Right-handed batters are hitting only .133 against him in 33.1 IP this year. At 27 years of age, he is arbitration-eligible in 2014. He has not been overwhelming for Miami, but his trend thus far this year is upwards. At the end of 2013, he may command more money than Miami wants to spend. Cutting him loose in an already lost season may be the best play for Marlins' management.

Getting both pitchers and some combination of cash and/or draft picks for Middlebrooks is a deal worth making for Boston. What the Marlins would be willing to offer for Will Middlebrooks is an unknown, but the answer would be worth pursuing.

There are some very interesting moves to be made for the Boston Red Sox in the remainder of the 2013 season. Will Middlebrooks and Jon Lester represent two trade chips that, if traded, have the potential to reap returns that will improve this team.

Patrick Bernier is a freelance writer who has been following the Boston Red Sox for 25 years.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickBern7.

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