Yesterday, we looked at potential trade match-ups with the LA Dodgers and Atlanta. Today, we’ll analyze two more promising partners: the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox. Tomorrow, we’ll cover a handful of candidates that fall into the “dare to dream” category and a couple other random possibilities.

In general, trade targets are younger than free agents, but not always. They also come with widely variable team control (and thus cost). It’s often said that you trade contracts, not players. A player with five years of team control has a vastly different value calculation than a player with one year of team control remaining. Potential trading partners for the Reds have different needs. Some are looking primarily to dump salary, some mainly want prospects, and some are seeking starting pitching.

Check out yesterday’s post for details on the criteria we’re using for potential targets and an explanation for team control.

Table glossary: The numbers in the charts below for OBP, BB%, ISO and wRC+ are based on projections (Steamer at FanGraphs) for the 2015 season. DRS stands for defensive runs saved and that’s their 2014 data from playing outfield. fWAR 14/15 is their WAR (wins above replacement) as estimated by FanGraphs for 2014 and projected for 2015.

Tampa Bay Salary Relief

The Rays, like Atlanta, are a team that just finished a less-than-fulfilling season. Unlike Atlanta, however, one of the Ray’s primary needs this offseason is to shave payroll. Their owner has already confirmed that last season’s total of $80 million will have to be trimmed. The Rays would be an interesting trading partner for the Reds since they won’t be looking for major league pitchers. If the Reds choose to keep their rotation intact, or if they want to trade a SP for another purpose, making a deal with the Rays for a LF would help.

As a result, players like Ben Zobrist who otherwise would be too valuable to move, might be on the trading block. Most of the obvious salary-dump candidates for the Rays are not outfielders. But a couple are, including a few arbitration-eligible players who could play LF for the Reds.


Hitting: Short on OBP. Former top prospect. Excellent speed. Change of scenery candidate.

Defense: Strong positive defense in LF.

Contract Status: Entering first year of arbitration. Projected to make $4 million, which is affordable to Reds. Three years of team control.

Conclusion: Jennings may be squeezed out of a starting job with Rays, behind a couple veterans and a couple less expensive younger players. Good match with Reds for prospects.


Hitting: Left-handed, platoon only. Offensive numbers would dip if had to hit against much LHP.

Defense: Defense positive in LF, struggled elsewhere.

Contract Status: Standard third year arbitration, estimated at $4.5 million. One-year rental.

Conclusion: Platoon of Joyce with Chris Heisey would be ultra cheap and low-impact way to go for Reds. Joyce expecting to be traded, won’t cost much.


Hitting: Second year in a row for Zobrist with offense at reduced level, but still well above average. At age 33, Zobrist is now likely the hitter of 2013 and 2014, not the previous two seasons.

Defense: Tremendous value because of defensive position flexibility. Plays across entire infield and outfield. Defense in OF fairly neutral. Flexibility has less value to team like the Reds with established infield and other OF slots and a manager who believes in set roles.

Contract Status: One more year of contract at $7.5 million team option, which is tremendous value since he’ll earn above $20 million in WAR.

Conclusion: From a value standpoint, the Rays would be nuts to trade Zobrist, but his $7.5 million contract may compel them to pick up his option and trade him, although maybe at the trade deadline.

Sawks Outfield Surplus

Much like the LA Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox have more returning outfielders than they can play in 2015. That list includes Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Archie Bradley, Daniel Nava, Allan Craig and youngsters Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo. Two of those players, Cespedes and Nava, are possible trade candidates.


Hitting: Short on OBP and BB% criteria but elite power and availability put him on our list. Sluggers with .200+ ISO are extremely rare. Only walked seven times in 51 games for Boston. Youngish for this group.

Defense: LF is his primary position. Superman’s arm. Other defensive skills neutral. Struggled with unusual LF in Fenway Park.

Contract Status: Owed $10.5 million in 2015, then free agent in 2016. One-year rental.

Conclusion: Red Sox might try to extend Cespedes, but he doesn’t fit their template of patient and disciplined hitters. Cespedes might have been the player the Reds were discussing at the trade deadline in the rumored Mat Latos talks. Boston needs SP, so that’s a fit. Given health uncertainty with Latos, Cueto is probably only Reds player that gets Cespedes. Leake plus a good prospect, maybe.

NavaHitting: Projections see higher power for Nava in 2015 than 2014. Poor early 2014 followed outstanding 2013 (.303/.385/.445, .142 ISO). Age makes 2014 numbers more likely going forward. Switch-hitter. Was sent to minors during 2014 but returned and hit better. Meets all criteria.

Defense: Plays LF, RF and a bit of 1B. Good arm, poor range. Defensive metrics split. Strongly positive in 2014 after negative previous two seasons.

Contract Status: Old for three years of team control. Entering first arbitration year.

Conclusion: Nava is out of options, so Red Sox can’t send to AAA. Unclear if Nava is in Boston’s plans, not likely to start. Probably not expensive in trade, maybe Simon (one year for three years) plus a second-level prospect. Nava’s age is a legitimate concern, though.


Tomorrow: Left Field Trade Targets, Part 3