The Boston Red Sox are reported to be in full-on sell mode with regards to Kevin Youkilis. There have been reports that Youkilis is “being shopped everywhere” and the Pirates have been one of the teams linked to him right from the start. If this were 2008-2010, that would be fantastic news. But alas, the calendar says this is 2012 and this season has been a trying one for Youkilis.
He has never been a picture of good health, but this year his back has really flared up on him. There was also his dust up with new manager Bobby Valentine at the beginning of the season. During an interview, Valentine openly questioned Youkilis’ heart and desire. From that point on, it seemed as the question was not “if” but “when” he would be gone.
Youkilis is having an awful season at the plate, which isn’t helping his trade value. Right now, he has a .215/.301/.341 (642 OPS) and a 74 OPS+, which would be the first time since his debut in 2004 that his OPS+ has been below 100. To date he has been worth -0.2 WAR. The 33 year-old is in the last guaranteed year of his deal and is making $12M in 2012. He has an option for $13M for 2013 or a $1M buyout.
What is the true value of Youkilis, though, for the remainder of 2012? Is it the player that from 2008 to 2011 averaged 4.9 WAR/season? Or it is the washed up/injury prone version in 2012 that some would have you believe? Let’s give Youkilis a little benefit of the doubt and say that a change of scenery (plus a position switch to 1B) would have a rejuvenating effect on him and Youkilis would generate 1.2 WAR to give him 1.0 WAR overall in 2012.
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As you can see, the Red Sox would have to kick in $2 M under this scenario to be able to justify the trade to a team, let alone expect any prospect of any note to come back. But with Will Middlebrooks clearly showing he’s the future at 3B, plus David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez occupying 1B and DH, there is no room for Youkilis anymore. The Sox also may want to think about reloading and getting younger, as well.
The Red Sox would have to pass $5 M over to a team to expect any type of C-level prospect to come back in a trade. More likely, it would be a low level hitter or relief pitcher.
All of this assumes Youkilis could regain his value with a trade. The lower his value is set, the more the Red Sox have to pay. If teams feel he can only put up the equivalent of a 0.5 WAR, for example, then that’s an extra $3.5 M that the Red Sox would have to pay. In that scenario they’d have to pay $5.5 M of his remaining salary to move him, and pay all of his salary just to get a marginal prospect in return.