The recent moves by the Yanks and Red Sox have roster and trade implications for both teams. Lets take a minute and examine the potential fallout from each team’s perspective.
Yankees-Curtis Granderson: By adding Granderson’s bat, it greatly lessened the need for the Yanks to bring back Johnny Damon. That’s why Brian Cashman has a number in mind for Johnny, and if it takes more to sign him he’ll simply walk away. Many have used the recent 2-19 Bobby Abreu deal as a benchmark, but Abreu was signed to be the Angels everyday RF. The Yanks are (appropriately) signing Johnny to be a part time DH, which lessens his value to the team. You could also argue that the Yanks already have a better outfield than last year, even without signing Johnny. Curtis Granderson’s bat is similar to Johnny’s, and he’s far better defensively. So if you were to play Curtis in Center and move Melky to Left, you roughly maintain last year’s offensive output from your outfielders while upgrading yourself defensively at two positions. Johnny would be signed as much to replace Hideki Matsui as he would be to play Left Field, and as a part time DH he simply doesn’t have nearly the same value to the team. There are other, far less expensive options like Mark DeRosa or Nick Johnson, and Brian Cashman knows this.
Yankees-Jamie Hoffman: A seemingly small move as the first overall Rule 5 draft pick, but if the Yanks were to retain Johnny Damon and he was to split his duties between LF/DH, it would make either Melky or Brett Gardner very expendable. Granderson’s value is derived from him playing in Center, so Melky/Gardner would automatically be pushed to part time duty in Left. Throw Hoffman in the mix and one of these guys would never play. Gardner’s range is less important in Left and Melky’s arm is a bigger plus, so Gardner would likely be relegated to bench duty as a 5th OF/pinch runner. Though it’s worth noting that Hoffman’s skill set is very similar to that of Melky, so the Yanks may opt to trade Melky and keep Brett around as a bench player for his speed and defense. In any case, Hoffman makes one of the current outfielders redundant, so whoever has more value could be traded for some bullpen help. A 2nd Lefty would be nice.
Red Sox-Mike Lowell: His trade gives the Red Sox enormous flexibility to pursue replacements at a number of positions. They could sign a 3B like Adrian Beltre, they could move Youkilis to 3B and trade for a big bat at 1B like Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzalez, or they could shift Victor Martinez to 1B and try to find a Catcher via trade or a free agent stopgap. We’re already hearing rumors that they’re targeting Adrian Gonzalez and I’ll bet Theo makes a call for Miguel Cabrera as well, who would cost less in talent due to his enormous contract.
Red Sox-Mike Cameron: His signing signals the end of Jason Bay’s Red Sox career, unless they plan on putting CF Jacoby Ellsbury in a big package to get a big bat, and there are already reports of them doing just that. If they land Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres, at 10.5 mil over the next 2 years they would still have room to be a dark horse for a LF like Matt Holliday or to jump back in on Jason Bay should his market recede.
Red Sox-John Lackey: With a strong rotation of Beckett-Lester-Lackey-Matsuzaka-Wakefield it potentially frees up Clay Buchholtz to be moved in a deal for a position player as discussed above. Even if they don’t love Wakefield as their #5 and/or feel his back won’t hold up, Buchholtz is still expendable. 5th starters are a dime a dozen, they can sign a guy off the scrap heap and patch things together.
The Red Sox have the potential for a monster off season if they add Cameron, Lackey and Gonzalez/Cabrera. And again, I wouldn’t rule them out on Matt Holliday should they land Adrian Gonzalez with his ridiculously inexpensive contract. That all depends on how you calculate the payroll, which I won’t get into here but check out the 1st comment I left below. If the Yanks want to maintain their edge going into next season, they still have work to do. As things stand right now, the Boston rotation is simply better than the Yanks. The Red Sox lineup still lags behind, but a deal for a big bat at 1B will narrow the gap, and if they somehow land Matt Holliday as well, then they would be clearly ahead. Yanks need a starting pitcher and to solve their LF situation to maintain the top perch in the AL East.