Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Friday, November 25, 2005

CLEMENT FOR OVERBAY?

Even in the aftermath of the Josh Beckett acquisition, there's been speculation that the Red Sox may not yet be done in their attempts to overhaul their 2005 rotation. Assuming that David Wells will be traded, the Sox opening day staff could include Beckett, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Clement, and likely Jonathan Papelbon. That means there are already six starters on the staff before another pitcher is acquired.

As I've written in the past, Arroyo would seem like the most likely trade option because of his low cost and durability. While not exceptional, Arroyo's numbers last year were good enough to make him a solid back of the rotation starter, and many teams might be interested in the right deal.

But Red Sox Nation might be much happier to see the Sox part company with Matt Clement and his large contract instead. Clement faded miserably in the season's second half - for the second year in a row. See a pattern developing here? But it seemed that Clement's $8 million plus annual salary would scare away any potential trade partners. The Sox overbid on a mediocre pitcher, and it seemed they were stuck with him for two more years. Or, maybe not.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Red Sox have inquired about Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay. The paper claims that a rumor is "circulating" that the Sox have offered Clement as compensation. Overbay's production took a dip last year when he hit .276 for the Brewers with 19 home runs and 72 runs-batted in, along with a .367 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging percentage. But in 2004, the left-handed Overbay, who turns 29 in January, hit .301/.385/.478, with 16 homers, 53 doubles and 87 RBI. After earning $446,000 last season he is arbitration eligible and could potentially triple his salary in 2006. That would still be a deal. The Blue Jays are also said to interested in Overbay's services.

If the Sox can dump Clement, they can make a run at free agent Kevin Millwood, who led the AL with a 2.86 ERA last season in Cleveland. Millwood will only be 31 next season. AJ Burnett may be too pricey, considering the 5-year $50 million offer that the Blue Jays recently tendered, while Matt Morris and Jarrod Washburn (3.20 ERA) remain other possibilities. All of them had better ERA's than Clement's 4.57. Clement also gave up more than a hit an inning, so if the Sox could lose him and upgrade, particularly with Millwood, they would have a much better staff next season.

That's something to look forward to.

1 comment:

mfried said...

This is a decent trade. More interesting but riskier would be a similar transaction for Adrian Gonzalez.

The overall concern is insurance in case Manny has to be traded for prospects. A short-term solution: pick up Frank Thomas on the cheap, and play Big Papi on 1st base. That's the alternative to the deal for Overbay or Gonzalez.