Taboo: Trading with the Red Sox

Saltalamacchia would be a viable option if on any other team.

I know, it’ll never happen. The rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox makes trade discussions between the two clubs taboo. In general, intra-division trades occur infrequently. When they do, it’s expected to be minor in nature. One team doesn’t want to improve another club within the division.

1997 was the last time Boston and New York made a trade, when the Yanks acquired Mike Stanley and Randy Brown for Jim Mecir and Tony Armas. There have been a good amount of trades between the two sides in their history, but it’s been a cold 15 years.

Some of the notables include Mike Easler going to the Yanks in exchange for Don Baylor in 1986, the acquisition of Sparky Lyle from Boston in 1972, Elston Howard being sent to the Red Sox in 1967, and of course, the infamous purchase of Babe Ruth in 1920. For a full history of dealings between the two rivals, click here.

Looking at the Red Sox’ current catching situation, theoretically there is a trade match. Boston signed David Ross this offseason, while already having Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway on the roster. Plus, if they can seal the deal with Mike Napoli, they’ll have four guys who can catch (although Napoli is being brought in to play first base).

Right now, Boston’s plan is to start Saltalamacchia, with Ross the backup. It appears that Lavarnway, their catcher of the future, is headed to AAA to start the season. However, the Red Sox have fielded offers for Salty this offseason. While they may not move him now, it does indicate their plan to have Lavarnway take over relatively soon.

Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, would make perfect sense for the Yankees hypothetically. He’s arbitration eligible for the final time this year (projected $3.9M per MLBTR), thereby making him a free agent at year end. Any trade for the man with the longest last name in baseball history wouldn’t affect austerity plans for 2014.

On the field, Salty has finally shown some of the potential that was cast onto him as a top prospect in the Braves and Rangers organizations. He’s flashed good power the past two seasons, smacking a career high 25 home runs in 2012 after hitting 16 the year prior, good for a .224 ISO. His slash line isn’t pretty (.228/.288/.452) over the past two years, but then again, neither was Russell Martin‘s. Martin was a tad better of a hitter (98 vs 95 wRC+), but far better defensively. Saltalmacchia checks out as below average defensively per DRS, UZR, and RPP. It’s no question that Salty would be a vast upgrade (offensively, at least) over Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli.

I’m not going to get into who Boston might want, because realistically, this deal will never come to fruition. It’s too bad, because Saltalamacchia would be a reasonable trade target if on virtually any other team.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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