Update (7:10PM) : The deal is completed according to MLBtraderumors.com. The Red Sox will get Clayton Mortensen in return. I expect other signing news soon.
The deal that would send Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies appears to be back on with MLB Trade Rumors reporting that Boston and Colorado are near an agreement with Boston likely to receive Clayton Mortensen in return. Mortensen will likely be in the mix for a starting spot with the Red Sox, but could also be a very useful addition to the bullpen as a right handed specialist. The primary reason for moving Scutaro is probably to clear salary cap space, however. Scutaro is earning $6.5M this season as Boston picked up the final option year on his contract in October. With the extra salary being made available it is likely that the Red Sox will sign Roy Oswalt, who is rumored to be seeking a 1 year $8M contract.
If Scutaro is, in fact traded, Nick Punto and Mike Aviles will be the front runners for the Red Sox short stop position. The two players represent two different extremes in their skill sets. Punto has almost no power with a career .327 Slugging percentage in 11 seasons. He does have a good eye at the plate however, with a respectable .325 OBP on his career.. Aviles has a far more free swinging approach, with just a .318 OBP on his career, but a far better .419 SLG. He may be an upgrade at shortstop, however, despite the repuation that he can’t stick at the position. Aviles is favored by most of the defensive metric out there; Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) likes him their better than Punto, as does defensive runs saved (DRS) and Total Zone (TZ). Aviles is also being groomed for more time in the outfield next year, playing right field in the winter leagues this year.
Defensive wizard Jose Iglesias could also factor into the shortstop debate, the 21 year old Cuban-born prospect has been considered a impact defender throughout his minor league career, but his bat has failed to develop. As a minor leaguer last season, he has hit just .235/.285/.269 at AAA Pawtucket. Given his age, he may just need more time to develop , but his slick fielding could land him in the mix in 2012.
The drop-off from Scutaro to Aviles or Punto would not be as much as many fans may think. Patrick Sullivan (no relation) has a great breakdown of the differences in each option at Red Sox Beacon. While Mortensen is a disappointing return, the prospect that Boston will now land a strong starting pitcher option makes this deal a good move overall. However, if they fail to land Oswalt or trade for a stronger right field option, this deal will look terrible. Cherington is putting himself in the hot seat with this move. These next few days will mean a great deal for the 2012 team.