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No, the Red Sox aren’t trading Xander Bogaerts for Cliff Lee

Jul 30, 2013, 2:55 PM EDT

Xander Bogaerts AP

Cliff Lee is pretty terrific. He’s currently 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA. He’s on pace for a sixth straight season of 200 innings pitched, and his worst ERA in that span is a 3.22 mark. Since 2008, he has the second best ERA+ or anyone to throw 500 innings, coming in a bit behind Clayton Kershaw. Lee is also 7-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 postseason starts.

Lee’s contract is less terrific. The Phillies backloaded it so that they could get away with paying him just $11 million in 2011. As a result, he’ll make $25 million in both 2014 and ’15. Worse is his option for 2016. It can vest at $27.5 million, which isn’t so terribly bad. But it has a $12.5 million buyout attached to it, which is going to be an awfully big hit for a team to take if Lee falls apart at some point within the next two years.

So, basically, any team that trades for Lee is going to be paying market value for his services. And if you’re going to pay market value for his services, there’s no way it makes any sense to give up one of the top 10 prospects in baseball for him.

Xander Bogaerts is considered the best prospect the Red Sox have produced since Hanley Ramirez. In truth, he’s a better prospect than Ramirez was, since there were always questions about Ramirez’s work ethic and ego as he climbed the ladder. Bogaerts might not be quite as talented as Ramirez, but he’s close. He’s hit .311/.407/.502 in 56 games in Double-A and .279/.380/.483 in 41 games in Triple-A this year at the tender age of 20. He’s also turned himself into a pretty good shortstop through hard work. It used to be assumed that he’d outgrow the position and move to third base. That’s still a possibility, and the Red Sox have recently given him starts at third in Triple-A in order to determine whether he can help them this year. But he has shown enough at shortstop to suggest that he could last there for at least his first few major league seasons.

The Red Sox won themselves a World Series by trading Ramirez to the Marlins for Josh Beckett, but they haven’t been back there since 2007 and maybe they would have been if they had kept Hanley and Anibal Sanchez around. Of course, they’d still do it all over again and they’d be right to. If trading Bogaerts for Cliff Lee assured them of a World Series victory this year, they’d do that, too.

But it doesn’t. Lee, for all of his postseason success, has never pitched for a World Series winner. That doesn’t reflect on him, just on the crapshoot that is the postseason. Lee is great, but he doesn’t swing the odds enough. If a lesser package could bring him in, the Red Sox might bite. It probably won’t, so they’ll simply make do. 6 2/3 seasons of Bogaerts for the right to pay Lee either $70 million through 2015 or $85 million through 2016 just doesn’t work.

  1. therealtrenches - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    The headline here should be “Poulliot Certain Red Sox Won’t Trade Bogaerts for Lee.”

    There’s no news in this article. We want news! The rest, we can figure out for ourselves (and I happen to agree with Poulliot; but neither of us works for the Red Sox).

    • scotttheskeptic - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      I thought I was the only one betrayed by the headline.

    • hammyofdoom - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      Though the Phillies want Bogaerts as the centerpiece of a Lee deal, the Red Sox “view his inclusion as a non-starter and will not consider proposals that involve him,” writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. He says the Red Sox are willing to deal multiple top ten prospects though.
      From mlbtraderumors. This is NOT happening

      • therealtrenches - Jul 30, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        It’s what they said about Kyle Drabek, too. But a few days later, he was packing his bags.

  2. philswfc08 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Bogaerts being a star isn’t a sure thing either. I wonder, if the Phils were to eat say $5-7m each year, would this deal work?

    • rjostewart - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:46 PM


    • jrbdmb - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      No reason to wonder, the Phils would not eat any of Lee’s salary.

  3. biasedhomer - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    The last 2 paragraph of this article…possibly an all time low for this blog.

    And Bogaerts is no the best prospect since Hanley. Ellsbury was just as highly touted, or even more so, than Rameriez.

  4. hittfamily - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    This is a franchise that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2009. They had a sellout streak of more than a decade come to an end last year. They just gave up a 7 game division lead in a little over 3 weeks. Their best hitter is 38 years old, and their best pitcher has been on the DL with arm troubles. John Lackey is now the ace of the staff, who happens to be coming off TJ surgery. They lost their closer for the year. They lost their second closer for the year. They appear to me as though they should be desperate.

    Do desperate teams without payroll concerns make funky decisions every once in a while? You bet your ass they do. David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, > Lackey, Lester, Doubront, Dempster, ALLEN WEBSTER.

    Ben Cherington just got this job. He saw what happened to his boss the last time the Sox collapsed after the break. He’s a few bad games away from being out of the wild card. If you think the Sox will be willing to miss the postseason again because they aren’t getting a bargain on Lee, and Boegarts could be the second coming of Nomar (or Brignac, that’s the thing about prospects), I think you are wrong. Good luck explaining to the fans that a 20 year old in AAA and a few million dollars kept you out of the playoffs for the 5th year in a row.

    • tiggersarebouncy - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      HAHA – five years and counting after this season!!

      • dirtyharry1971 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:42 PM

        Another excellent post! Id love to give it 100 thumbs up!!

      • tiggersarebouncy - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        I bet u could

    • jcmeyer10 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Quite frankly, I will consider this year a success unless we totally collapse. Cherington has a few years in my book as long as things are moving in a positive direction.

      Giving up young talent for old talent got the Sox in this mess in the first place. Stay the course Ben.

      • hittfamily - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        The Rays and Orioles will likely be better next year than they are this year. Price might be traded, but Tampa hardly has a difficult time finding star power in their rotation. The Jays might be good next year, or they might suck. Papi is old. Lester is getting worse by the day. Ellsbury is a free agent. Napoli is playing on borrowed knees and time. I’d say the window is open this year, and closed for a while after that.

      • tiggersarebouncy - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        The blosox are gearing up to trade Bogarts and Jackie Wilson Jr. right now even as Ben Cherington has Theo’s old gorilla suit resized!!

      • jcmeyer10 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Hittfamily, you pretty much made my argument? Why trade young talent that can fill multiple holes for one aging vet that will put the Red Sox in an even bigger hole come next year.

        I want this team to compete over time, a la the Pats, not just go for it once then live in mediocrity for years.

        This year has been fantastic given expectations at the start of the season. I hope the Celtics can mirror (to a lesser degree most likely) the fact that this team over achieved.

      • hittfamily - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        JC, will this be your tone when the Sox miss the postseason because they did nothing at the deadline? They have a LOT of money to spend in the future. Ellsbury is a FA. Lester is a FA. Salty is a FA, Drew is a FA. Aceves is a FA. That’s a lot of talent, and a lot of money.

        Your team looks like this next year:
        C: Lavarnaway/Ross
        1b: Napoli
        2b: Pedey
        SS: Iglesias/Bogaerts
        3b: Middlebrooks?
        LF: Nava
        CF: ?
        DH: Ortiz

        SP: Lackey
        SP: Dempster
        SP: Bard?
        SP: Andrew Miller?

        That team will not compete with the Rays/O’s/Jays. However, that is a cheap team. I’m not going to look it up, but I’d be shocked if next years guaranteed money exceeded 80 million. They have what, 75 million per year to improve it? That team minus bogaerts but with Cliff Lee added has already made it competitive, and if the right moves are made (resign Ellsbury), a good team.

      • bigt12789 - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM

        Hittfamily please stick to talking about the Rays. You do realize the Sox will still have Felix Doubront in their rotation and have some of the best pitching prospects in the game? Of all the big market teams the Sox are in the best position going forward, we’ve got a stacked minor league system and no massive contracts that will cripple their plans going forward. So lets not just write them off for 2014 just yet ok? (Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard as starting pitchers? Really?)

      • mornelithe - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:54 PM

        @hittfamily – What are you high?

        Everyone said the same thing at the beginning of the year, they appear to be competing at the moment.

      • detroitfanatic - Jul 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        Whatever guys. The Sox have a great farm, but so did the Royals 4 years ago. Moustakus, Hosmer, Hochevar, Crow, Montgomery, Cortes were the top 5 in 2009 if I remember right.

        If trading one of those guys would have made the Royals the best team in baseball, they should have done it. I suspect 4 years from now we will be saying the same thing about Sox management.

      • bigt12789 - Jul 30, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        Fanatic- What the hell does the Royals situation have to do with the Red Sox right now? Have there not been countless times when teams did have a deep farm system and it worked out for them? You’re also comparing a smaller market team to one of the biggest. If the Sox come across the right trade (and I don’t believe that’s Xander for Lee) then they have all the resources necessary to make the trade happen. The Royals have never been in that situation because they don’t have the money to trade for and keep a star. Like I said above, the Sox are in a position that any of the other big market teams would DIE to be in right now, so lets not write off their future just yet…

      • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        I think what you are forgetting is that the Royals were expected to finish under 500 again and they decided to go for the push to keep fan interest alive.

        Red sox,same thing.Just because you have money does not mean you must spend it.

        Total do over:Would you NOT rather have kept Meyers?

        Why go all in when the fan base had lousy expectations to begin with?Keep the youngsters for 6/3 mil as opposed to $$$$$ MLB VETERAN.

      • detroitfanatic - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        The point with the Royals was all the praise that had been heaped upon them before any prospect ever made his or her MLB debut. They had 5-6 can’t miss prospects, and guess what, every last one of them missed. The Sox have 1, so better save him for down the road when they are ready to compete again in 2018 right? Ortiz: Old. Ellsbury: Somewhere else next year. Lester: Somewhere else next year. Saltalamacchia: Somewhere else next year. Drew:Somewhere else next year. Napoli: Hip Replacement surgery. Lackey: Clock strikes midnight come Novemeber, and he reverts back to being a shoeless, princeless stepsister.

        Go get a championship today, and make due with what you have tomorrow, tomorrow.

      • bigt12789 - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:48 PM

        Slappy I agree completely. In fact as a Sox fan I REALLY wish the Royals had kept Myers, the dude is going to be a stud for the Rays for a long time. IMO the Red Sox should only trade Xander for a RH power bat such as Stanton. It’s gotta be the right trade and at the moment I don’t see that happening.

      • bigt12789 - Jul 30, 2013 at 7:14 PM

        Fanatic- Great, you can beat the Royals point into the ground all you want but my point is their are numerous other teams in the past that have had their cant miss prospects pan out for them. The fact is that they have desire able trade pieces (pitchers,pitchers,pitchers) money to spend, and no albatross contracts on their roster. So you guys can forecast all the players they may be losing this offseason, or how you’re so certain others are going to start sucking, but you’re acting like they will have no opportunities to replace those guys either thru FA, a trade, or from within. So forgive me if a think we’ll be competing just a little sooner than 2018.

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 30, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      I can’t believe you put all that energy and time in to that silly comment

  5. dakotaandotter - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    the Bosox should do the deal. the future is now when you have a legit chance to win a WS. however, I would get the Phillies to pick up $10M of that salary. that then makes it closer to what a player like Lee is worth. I know it would hurt to lose a great prospect, but prospects are only prospects. Lee would be the best pitcher on the team even with a healthy Lester and Buchholz.

    • xmatt0926x - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Haven’t really thought about it too much but that’s not a bad point either dakota. Lee, Lester, Buchholz, and even the bulldog Lackey. Not a bad rotation to have for the final 3 years of Lee’s deal.

      Yeah, he could start breaking down but there’s been no sign of that yet and it’s not like he’s a Josh Beckett power type of pitcher. It seems pitchers like Lee play more consistent in their mid to late 30’s than do power pitchers.

    • hittfamily - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      I don’t think salary should be the hold up. Lester and Ellsbury are free agents. Pedroia just agreed to a very team friendly contract. Because Lackey missed a year, the Sox get one year of him at league minimum (in his contract). They no longer have any long term albatross contracts. They aren’t desperate for money, but they are desperate for a post season. Since 2009, they have spent well over a half a billion dollars trying to get back to the post season. I think it is foolish to let CliffLee get away because he makes 5% (guess?) over his value, and it costs you an unproven prospect. Middlebrooks was a top 50 prospect too. Wade Davis was a top 10. Reid Brignac was a top 50. That catcher they Yankees traded to Seattle was a top 5 (I’ve already forgotten his name).

      Prospects have value based on money they might one day save a team if they are any good. The Sox don’t need to save money in the future. They need to contend today.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Forgetting Montero’s name makes the Baby Jesus cry.

  6. deathmonkey41 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Jason Werth doesn’t like Bogaerts…or maybe it’s Bogarts…I can remember.

    • Gamera the Brave - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      Harry Potter doesn’t like boggarts, either…

    • tiggersarebouncy - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      Chris Perez’s dog Bogarts all day every day!! HAHA!!

  7. finchj15 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Reblogged this on Baseball 101: Finchy's View and commented:
    Even though the really should….

    • detroitfanatic - Jul 30, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      “Even though the really should….”
      There is nothing that could take the place of “…” that would make this a legible sentence.

  8. greymares - Jul 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    As a Philly fan I hope your right there is no way I would trade Lee for any prospect. That’s been done befor with zero success. Lee is a stud starter with at lest 3 yrs. of top of the rotation stuff. Anything less than a tried, bonified everyday player is not acceptable.

  9. rjostewart - Jul 30, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    I’m not sure pitching is this team’s biggest need. Jose Iglesias has hit .200/.244/.213 while getting the bulk of the starts at either short or third. If only the Red Sox had a guy with an .860ish OPS hanging around somewhere – say, a short drive away in Rhode Island – whom they could plug in at one of those two positions…

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