According to a National League source with whom Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports had the pleasure of speaking, Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis is “being shopped everywhere.” In the last few weeks, the once proud Greek God of Walks has been reduced to being a member of the chorus, and a rather easily replaced member at that.
While certainly part of the reason Youkilis finds himself inside the bargain bin between a Three Dog Night album and a pack of Ginsu knives is the emergence of Wil Middlebrooks as a capable every day third baseman, the 33 year old has done himself no favours, accumulating a paltry .288 wOBA over 153 plate appearances in 39 games this season.
In fact, given the way that Youkilis has played, currently mired in a one for twenty-one slump, one has to wonder what type of market exists. According to the report from Rosenthal and Morosi, it not only exists, it’s plentiful with the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Dodgers, Indians and Pirates all believed to have expressed varying degrees of interest.
That, despite what could be the full on decline of Youkilis:
While what’s being represented on the above graph promises to loom large in any trade negotiations, the FOX Sports report goes on to suggest the following:
Some of the interested clubs are expected to dispatch scouts to Boston’s series against the Miami Marlins this week at Fenway Park. As with most potential trade deadline acquisitions, Youkilis’ health and performance right now is of the utmost importance.
Under the circumstances, this may be one of the few times in which a small sample size is valid. Quite obviously, any team pursuing or receptive to talks with the Red Sox over Youkilis isn’t interested in the player currently collecting outs in almost 70% of his plate appearances, they’re interested in the player that was once able to sustain an on base average around .400.
It’s doubtful that the anemic offensive numbers that Youkilis is currently putting up are indicative of his true talent level, and given the state of the Red Sox clubhouse, which ESPN’s Buster Olney twice described as toxic this weekend, there’s something of a built in excuse for his poor play. What an interested team will want to see this week is whether his lack of production is the result of things like declining bat speed or ugly mechanics, as opposed to randomness or merely a distracted approach at the plate.
Acquiring Youkilis is a short term gamble for a team, and given the amount of money still owed to him for this season, estimated to be around $7 million, plus the $1 million it will cost a team to avoid picking up his $13 million option for 2013, it shouldn’t cost very much at all outside of his salary to acquire him. If the Red Sox are looking for a return on Youkilis of any significance whatsoever, they’ll have to be willing to eat a sizable chunk of the dollars that are still owed to him.
Given his play of late and the current conditions of the Red Sox clubhouse, I don’t know which option would be preferable to Boston, who may very well want to make the move that shakes things up sooner rather than later. Under this scenario, a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who under new ownership, would theoretically sooner give up funds than players to acquire Youkilis. The right handed hitter could give the team a much needed upgrade as either a replacement at first base for James Loney, or at third base for the unholy platoon of Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy.
However, it all comes down to whether or not Youkilis is the type of bargain bin special that pays dividends or the type that ends up in the junk drawer.