The Boston Red Sox have produced – and traded away – two franchise shortstops in the past 15 years. Nomar Garciaparra is long retired, but many fans would say that Hanley Ramirez – recent struggles notwithstanding – would look awfully good in a Boston Red Sox uniform right now. Of course each trade played an integral role in a World Series title so it is hard to bang on those moves. Sports are a “what have you done for me lately” industry though and for a Boston Red Sox franchise that now expects to hang a banner every season, guys like Mike Aviles, Marco Scutaro, Nick Green, Jed Lowrie (in fairness, injuries were Lowrie’s undoing, not lack of performance), Julio Lugo, Jose Iglesias, Alex Cora and Alex Gonzalez just don’t cut it. To put a merciful end to this game of musical chairs, the Boston Red Sox may approach the Texas Rangers about 23-year old Elvis Andrus.
Andrus is a shortstop who combines Gold Glove caliber defense with steadily improving offensive skills. Despite his lack of current power, Andrus (.383 OBP, 16 SB) has what it takes to become a fixture in the Red Sox lineup for several years. The reason why the Rangers will be willing to listen to offers for their dynamic youngster is because they have another one on the way who projects to be even better. Jurickson Profar is triple slashing .293/.370/.480 with 33 extra-base hits, 9 SB and a 38-48 BB/K ratio in Double-A as a 19 year old. There is no need to rush Profar – who was described as “Hanley Ramirez with Dustin Pedroia make-up” in Baseball America’s 2012 Prospect Handbook – but at this rate he is going to force himself onto the big league roster. A position change for Andrus or Profar is still a possibility, but the long-term presence of Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler makes it seem as though a trade is more likely. Furthermore, considering how difficult it is to find shortstops with above average offensive ability (especially in Boston), one could see the Red Sox putting together an aggressive trade package for Elvis Andrus.
The Boston Red Sox have thinned out their farm system in recent years, but they still have some ammo to fire. RHP Matt Barnes (1.86 ERA, 11.41 K/9 between Low and High-A), SS Xander Bogaerts (.285/.363/.482, 12 HR as a 19 year old in High-A) and OF Jackie Bradley (.356/.470/.512, 18 SB between High and Double-A) are three guys who could headline a blockbuster deal this off-season. The Texas Rangers will certainly ask for a lot, but the Boston Red Sox might be willing to meet the price if it means finally addressing their black hole at shortstop.