The 2020 Major League Baseball season has reached its final weekend leading up until the August 31 trade deadline. With that, a few key contributors on the Red Sox popped up in trade rumors on Friday.
According to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli, the Astros have “inquired” on right-hander Matt Barnes, while the Rays “have interest” in catcher Christian Vazquez “with early discussions centering around Tampa’s pitching prospects.”
Barnes and Vazquez, who are both 30 years old, are under club control through the end of the 2021 season, with Vazquez having a $7 million team option for 2022.
Coming into Friday with the second-worst record in the American League at 10-21, the Sox seem primed to be sellers between now and Monday afternoon. They made that much apparent last week by dealing both Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Phillies.
Barnes, who is good friends with both Hembree and Workman, could be the next Boston reliever to get moved.
Through his first 12 appearances of the year, the UCONN product has struggled thus far, posting a 6.00 ERA and 6.65 FIP over 12 innings of work. Still, Barnes was among the nastiest relievers in the American League in 2019, and a pitching-savvy club such as the Astros, led by renowned pitching coach Brent Strom, may be able to unlock something in the fireballer.
Vazquez, meanwhile, has a case to be made that he is more valuable to the Red Sox than Barnes is seeing how he anchors an ever-changing pitching staff.
Coming off a career year last season, the Puerto Rico native entered the weekend owning a .260/.295/.430 slash line to go along with four home runs and 12 RBI through 28 games and 105 plate appearances.
Just recently, Vazquez expressed his desire to end his career with the Red Sox, the organization he was originally drafted by 12 years ago.
“I think it’s going to be sad if I left Boston because all my career we’re here,” he said this past Tuesday. “From (2008), a young kid, I’ve been here. Only one organization. And my goal is retire here. That’s my goal in my career. Be part of one organization, have one jersey on my chest all my career. But we don’t control that.”
If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who used to work for the Rays, were to entertain trading Vazquez to Tampa Bay, who have the top farm system in baseball according to Baseball America, not only could the Sox possibly get a quality pitching prospect back, but they could also open the door to sign free agent-to-be J.T. Realmuto this winter if the Phillies don’t re-sign the All-Star backstop first.
That is just a distinct possibility, however, and Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy even classified Vazquez as someone “we want in Boston” when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron on Wednesday.
With less than 72 hours to go until the trade deadline, Bloom and Co. are certainly on the clock. Even with all that has transpired over the past few days, it would be quite surprising to see the Red Sox not make any additional moves by Monday.