Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reports: Kevin Youkilis trade coming soon, Dodgers still in play

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports put out word late last night that Kevin Youkilis is likely to be traded soon.

They view the White Sox as the favorite to land Youkilis, but the Dodgers are still a possibility.

Scott Miller of CBS Sports agrees with Rosenthal and Morosi that Chicago remains the favorite. However, he writes the Dodgers and other teams are "... pushing hard, too."

I haven't written much about Youkilis in the last few weeks, but I'm on board with this potential acquisition -- at the right price.

Boston is reportedly willing to eat some of Youkilis' remaining $7 million salary to get a better prospect in return. The Dodgers are in a position to eat some salary to avoid having to give up a better prospect in return. It's been a long time since Dodger fans could make a statement like that.

Youkilis, 33, also has a club option for 2013 at $13 million with a $1 million buyout. The way he's performing this season (.225/.311/.359), it's all but assured this is a three-month rental. But, Youkilis could be rejuvenated by getting out of Boston where he and manager Bobby Valentine have butted heads on a couple of occasions.

Compensation is going to depend on which team budges first. Everyone knows the Red Sox have to trade Youkilis, but they're not without leverage, as the aforementioned White Sox and also the Reds (Youkilis is from Cincinnati) and the Braves are interested in his services.

He has a career .286/.388/.487 triple slash, but that stat has fallen to .250/.358/.435 over the last two seasons. Still, that would be immensely better than the production the Dodgers have received from their third basemen since Casey Blake in 2009.

Youkilis came up through the minors as a third baseman, but that might not be the best place for him. He's played more first base in his big league career (596 games) than he has third base (363 games). At age 33, his best defensive days are behind him. And he was never exactly Brooks Robinson at the hot corner for Boston.

As much as I loathe Juan Uribe and everything he stands for as a baseball player, if the Dodgers acquire Youkilis, I'd like to see him play first base. It's a much easier defensive position and less physically taxing. Plus, he has hit better as a first baseman for his career (.297/.395/.498) than he has as a third baseman (.274/.377/.482). Not that big a difference, but a difference nonetheless.

James Loney, despite a fantastic glove, just isn't hitting and likely will continue not hitting. Also, leaving third base vacant gives the Dodgers an opportunity to plug it with another player -- I'm looking at you, Chase Headley.

Prior to 2010, Youkilis was one o the best in the majors at getting on base. From 2006-10, his on-base percentage was .396. That is something the Dodgers could desperately use. At this point, the Dodgers could use any influx of offense.

One thing to note about Youkilis is his durability. He's never played more than 147 games in a season (2006, age 27) and has missed significant time during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He also had a disabled list stint earlier this season.

So, what would it take to get him? That's the big question.

If the Dodgers eat most or all of the remaining money, they could probably land Youkilis for a couple of B/C prospects. If the Red Sox want to eat a good majority of the salary, they could be looking at a B+/B prospect in return.

If the Dodgers take on the salary

To Boston: Jerry Sands, Javier Solano
To Los Angeles: Youkilis

If the Red Sox take on the salary

To Boston: Aaron Miller or Chris Withrow, Solano
To Los Angeles: Youkilis

I would much prefer the first deal. I've been a Sands fan since his breakout season in 2010. He hasn't exactly gotten a fair opportunity with the Dodgers, thus he has fallen way out of favor after being the organization's Minor League Player of the Year just two years ago. A change of scenery could do him well. Solano is surprisingly underrated as a relief prospect. He's in Double-A with the ability to get a strikeout 8.9 K/9 for his career).

It may seem like a lot to give up for a guy struggling, but when trading, it's always best to trade from depth. Corner outfielders and right-handed relievers are positions the Dodgers have quite the surplus of in the system.

The second deal is more risky because Miller and Withrow (especially Withrow) have talent and potential to be big league starters. Miller has pitched better of late while Withrow is on the disabled list for the second time this season. However, Withrow is the only prospect in the Dodger system with 5-star potential -- he's just never lived up to it.

With Matt Kemp due back after the All-Star Break, it'd be nice to welcome him with a present like Youkilis. He isn't as good as he once was, but he's better than anything the Dodgers are running out at either corner infield position.

Let's just hope guys like Zach Lee, Chris Reed, Joc Pederson and Allen Webster are off-limits.

The last time Ned Colletti traded for a broken-down third baseman, he traded away Carlos Santana. Thankfully, the Dodgers don't have a Carlos Santana in the system, but that doesn't mean there aren't some valuable prospects to be had by other teams.

Photo credit: dbking, Flickr

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