Youkilis trade talk heating up; D-backs in play?

Youkilis trade talk heating up; D-backs in play?

Published Jun. 19, 2012 9:55 a.m. ET

Kevin Youkilis' last days in a Boston Red Sox uniform may be approaching.

Trade dialogue surrounding the beleaguered Boston third baseman has intensified in the last 24 to 48 hours, major league sources told The Red Sox have made clear that (a) Youkilis is available and (b) they are willing to include cash to facilitate a better player return. In response, a number of clubs have indicated that they have interest in acquiring the three-time All-Star.

“He’s being shopped everywhere,” said one high-ranking official with a National League club.

No deal is imminent, but Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is getting a clearer idea of how other teams value Youkilis, who has been limited by a low back strain to only 39 games this season while posting the worst offensive numbers of his career (.215/.301/.341).

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates are among the teams with varying levels of interest in acquiring Youkilis, sources say.

The Cincinnati Reds – Youkilis’ hometown team – aren’t seen as a strong suitor for him. The Reds are in first place, veteran third baseman Scott Rolen came off the disabled list Monday, and the team has been impressed with the recent production of 26-year-old Todd Frazier at third.

Youkilis has more than $7 million left on his contract this year along with a $1 million buyout on next year’s $13 million club option. The more of his salary the Red Sox are willing to pay, the more likely it becomes that the lower-revenue Indians and Pirates will have a legitimate chance to land him.

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. He's hit .048 (1 for 21) over his past seven games, leaving doubt about his ability to contribute in the near term.

Youkilis, 33, is viewed by many evaluators as a player in decline, but he has value as a right-handed-hitting corner infielder with a grinder’s ethic and extensive postseason experience. Also, some people in the industry believe Youkilis could be rejuvenated by a change of scenery. He doesn’t have a good relationship with manager Bobby Valentine – dating back to Valentine’s public criticism of him in April – and Youkilis has been bothered by the incessant trade rumors, which are quite possibly affecting his play.