The Red Sox were already heading towards a tough situation at third base with the impending return of Kevin Youkilis and the stellar play from rookie Will Middlebrooks while Youk has been on the DL.
But now it appears that things are about to get a lot more difficult. Ken Rosenthal reported Friday that a rival executive said that “[Bobby] Valentine wanted Youkilis out as far back as spring training, viewing him as a liability.”
You might remember the Bobby V. and Youkilis relationship getting off to a rocky start this Spring when Valentine benched Youkilis and said that Youk isn’t “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.”
But wanting the guy “out” in Spring Training? I didn’t think it was that bad.
It has already been decided that Middlebrooks will be demoted when Youk is ready to return to the majors, which might be as early as this weekend. With the emergence of the 22-year old Middlebrooks, there has already been plenty of chatter around Boston about dealing Youk so that the rookie can keep his spot at the hot corner.
Unfortunately, such a trade is not so simple and, with Rosenthal’s report, just became that much more complicated.
Before the Sox can shop Youkilis, the 33-year old third baseman needs to prove that he can still be productive and stay healthy. His contract is up at the end of the year (with a club option for 2013) and there are plenty of teams who could use a 3B/1B/DH but, as Rosenthal reported, GMs around the league are going to have to be convinced that Youk is their guy.
Rosenthal cited two anonymous general managers on their interest in Youkilis:
“The first said that he would need to see Youkilis play for an extended period before determining whether his team had interest, citing Youkilis’ declining offense, defense and health.
The second said he would not claim Youkilis and the approximately $9 million remaining on his contract if the Red Sox released the veteran tomorrow, calling it “a boatload” of money for a player who is 33 and losing mobility.”
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that other teams now know that the Red Sox are looking to move Youk for a reason. Anytime that happens, the player in question tends to lose value because he’s looked at as “damaged goods” and opposing GMs know that his team more pressured to get rid of him.
As for the teams reportedly said to have an interest in Youkilis, Rosenthal lists the Angels, Orioles, Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Phillies and Reds.
It is certainly going to be an interesting ride watching how this situation unfolds.