The Red Sox made a statement when they agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Cuban defector Rusney Castillo. They are (at least for now) back to using their financial muscles in the free agent market, and seem prepared to spend to get their targets. But in showing that they still are willing to behave like a large-market club, the Red Sox also gave away part of their plan for the coming offseason. Adding Castillo makes it abundantly clear that the Red Sox will use their organizational depth on the trade market to add at least one major, franchise-changing piece to the roster.
The idea that the Red Sox are now in a position to make a major splash on the trade market is based solely on the numbers game. The team is stockpiling players, creating a situation where they have many quality players for few available spots. This depth is going to basically force the Red Sox to make some type of move, because there is no use having so many quality players if they do not get the chance to play at all. There is now surplus is almost every area of the Red Sox organization, which means someone will have to go in order to clear the picture. The outfield, for example, now appears more crowded than the Mass Pike at rush hour, with a combination of veterans and prospects vying for playing time. But the prospects are the key here, as they are the most valuable commodity and the most tradable asset in this scenario. Despite his recent demotion, Jackie Bradley Jr. was likely going to be in the team’s future plans in some capacity, and Mookie Betts is currently getting a chance to prove he can be the impact player he was in the minor leagues. Castillo’s signing now suggests that neither player will start for the Red Sox in the near future. Third base is becoming crowded as well, with Brock Holt and Will Middlebrooks currently splitting time there and Garin Cecchini waiting in the minors. Christian Vazquez has stabilized things behind the plate for the time being, but Blake Swihart has been more highly regarded as a prospect and is getting closer to the majors. This is all to say nothing of the tremendous organizational pitching depth that was only bolstered at the trade deadline.
The Red Sox have reportedly been trying to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from Miami for quite some time, especially since Stanton appears unhappy with the Marlins’ front office. However, to this point the Marlins have been publicly adamant that they will refuse to trade him, despite numerous reported offers. This could potentially be they offseason where a deal gets done, just because of the sheer magnitude of the situation. The Red Sox can go to the Marlins with the organizational surplus mentioned above, and essentially overwhelm them into working out a trade. At some point there will be an offer they can’t refuse, and the Red Sox are in a good position to make it.
There have also been various reports on the potential availability of Jason Heyward. An argument could be made that Heyward is the better fit for the Red Sox, given the enormous right field at Fenway Park and their current lack of left-handed hitters. Heyward would be more useful in this sense because of his increased athleticism and much better defense (34 DRS, 27.8 UZR/150 in 2014) compared to Stanton (6 DRS, 1.4 UZR/150), though he would currently represent less of a power threat at the plate. Heyward would also likely be easier to trade for than Stanton, as he is only a year away from hitting the open market and therefore gives the Braves less trade leverage.
The Red Sox having been setting themselves up for this coming offseason since the trade deadline. Every move has been made to make the team better for 2015, but also to create roster flexibility. Depth is always strength because it creates options and opens doors. The surplus here is incredible, and sets the table for a series of moves to reshape the organization.