- Shane Victorino could replace Jacoby Ellsbury
- Stephen Drew will replace Jose Iglesias
- David Ross makes either Salty or Lavarnway expendable
- And Joel Hanrahan makes Andrew Bailey expendable
This gives the Red Sox flexibility to trade players who could serve as key pieces for another team's playoff run. Let's consider the positive case for each player:
- This is a contract year for Ellsbury, a player capable of surpassing the season Mike Trout had in 2012
- Salty's 2012 stats are comparable to those of Mike Napoli, and look at the contract he was offered (I'll touch upon that later)
- Lavarnway is 27 and has shown a lot of promise at Pawtucket
- Andrew Bailey is only 28 and won Rookie of the Year as a closer in 2009
- Jose Iglesias is still a defensive wizard that could come off the bench to solidify a team's defense in the late innings of close games
I realize that I'm a total crackpot conspiracy theorist who thinks any trade or free agent acquisition Ben makes right now means that another Sox player we've come to know is on the move, but even the most ardent, knuckle-scraping Sabermetician douchewad has to admit that Ben has given himself a lot of leeway to trade away MLB players to stock the Sox farm system with good prospects.
Or make a trade for a first baseman.
We've all heard the PR spin on Napoli: It's just contract language, and it took the Red Sox five weeks to put the language in JD Drew's contract in place where the team felt protected if his health went south. That's a nice story, and, hey, maybe it will turn out to be true. But it assumes that Mike Napoli and JD Drew are the same person with the same problems, and that just isn't true.
The Mike Napoli story is different, because this story includes the caveat that Napoli's former team wouldn't even offer him a qualifying deal, which would have placed the Rangers in line for a free second round draft pick from the team that ended up signing Napoli. The Rangers weighed the risk of Mike Napoli taking their one year qualifying offer against the reward of Napoli going elsewhere and leaving them with a high round draft pick, and they decided that placing themselves in the position to keep Napoli for a year was too risky a bet to place on that coveted draft pick.
Think about that for a second, then consider the acquisitions that Ben has made this offseason that makes other Sox players redundant. And now you see why I'm a conspiracy theorist about one big trade, if not more, being in the works, since the expendable players needed for such a trade exist along with holes at first base and in the farm system.
The Red Sox currently have supply and demand, and this situation rarely ends in a stalemate.