Red Sox: Who goes? Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley?

The Boston Red Sox will face a payroll crunch as young stars near free agency. Will choices have to be made? Who would you trade? Jackie Bradley or Xander Bogaerts?

Who do you trade? Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley? Both are young and both are All-Stars. I could rehash the statistical profile of each but will make a leap of Red Sox faith that the reader knows the negatives, positives, and neutrals regarding their stats.

Why trade one or the other?

I certainly do not advocate shuffling one out the door before the first Jet Blue spring training flight arrives at Ft. Myers. Talent – especially productive talent – up the middle is special. Both should be Red Sox players for life, but those days of servitude or loyalty are gone. Rare indeed is the player that chooses not to maximize earning power.

There is one consideration that surfaces immediately and that is money. The Red Sox undoubtedly have their budgetary issues for the next few seasons well-rehearsed. The selling of Clay Buchholz – or give away – placed the team under the luxury tax threshold – at least temporarily. Management apparently wishes to walk that tightrope between paying a penalty and avoiding a penalty.

Both players will be in arbitration and the projections are certainly rewarding and well deserved based on performance. That will only increase each year until you reach the second consideration – free agency. The joys of the competitive market will drive up both their wages and their length of contract. If Bogaerts and Bradley continue to post numbers similar to 2016, the pot of gold awaits.

Free agency has benefited the Red Sox and has also caused some significant ripples. Teams have a nasty tendency to examine a walk year as an opportunity to simply cut your losses and find a team willing to meet your price. Boston would be no different. And that leads to a second consideration – agents.

Both Bogaerts and Bradley are represented by uber-agent Scott Boras. Players love Boras, fans hate Boras and the owners fear Boras. Rare indeed is a Boras client that decides to stay home and sign an extension – thus avoiding the free-agent market.

There is no sense of urgency at this time regarding both. Boston apparently wants another season of evaluation before offering up the South End to Bradley and the North End to Bogaerts to satisfy any contractual needs. The wait and see is a dangerous game, but so is signing a long-term deal – just think Matt Moore. Caution apparently is the optimum word on Yawkey Way.

Let’s do that great dance – far more entertaining than the Time Warp – it is called the “Hypothetical.” Just what is the time frame for making a baseball Sophie’s Choice on either player? Which one would you offer up on a trade platter? The big question is who do you get to replace either?

With Bradley, they may have come a Maxwell Smart “Missed it by that much.” Bradley’s name surfaced most notably in the Chris Sale trade. The Chicago White Sox – the Chicago red-headed baseball step child – had some serious interest. The reasoning from a Boston slant would be replaceability and that means Mookie Betts or Andrew Benintendi moving to center.

Going on the hypothetical pathway that could certainly hold true in the near future. If Benintendi is as good as he appears, the Red Sox may consider shipping out Bradley. Certainly a bit easier to pick up an outfielder for left. Now if Blake Swihart hits and Christian Vazquez gets around .250 the Red Sox may just opt for Swihart in left.

Short presents a different creature. Bogaerts is a good, but not a great fielder, but very competent and then comes the hitting. Back-to-back Silver Slugger Awards gives an inkling into Bogaerts hitting prowess. So you have a player who is simply one of the best at his position and will continue to be well into the next decade.

The Red Sox could take a look at the free agent market if they deal Bogaerts. Above average gloves are around – they always seem to be – however, they often have below average bats attached. The Red Sox could stuff a Deven Marrero type at short and watch an upgrade in fielding and a Mendoza Line batting average.

The key with either is linked to contract negotiations, replacement and the willingness of the Red Sox to possibly go well over the luxury tax. Maybe management has it that David Price will opt out freeing up $32 Million a year?

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