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Red Sox intend to trade Youkilis

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
For a week and a half, Bobby Valentine has made the new Red Sox lineup rotation work, with Adrian Gonzalez spending some time in right field and Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks both spending some time on the bench.

But the rotation system can only be a temporary fix, and the Red Sox realize that.

Eventually, the Red Sox need to trade Youkilis. And Red Sox officials have told officials of other teams that's exactly what they intend to do.

Youkilis is 33 (an old 33, it appears), and he has a big contract (he makes $12 million this year, with a $13 million option or $1 million buyout for 2013). But he has hit .313 with a .903 OPS in nine games since returning from the disabled list, and with very few good bats expected to be available in trade this summer, the Sox should have no problem finding a partner.

The Dodgers and White Sox are two teams that have already seen Youkilis play, and colleague Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers are stepping up their scouting of him. He would also seem to be a fit for the Phillies, Reds, Diamondbacks and possibly the Giants. Even the Rangers have checked on him, according to sources.

The Red Sox could look to unload most of Youkilis' money (in that case, the Dodgers may make the most sense), or they could offer to pay much of the salary and get a better return.

Trading Youkilis has become a more viable option because of Middlebrooks' strong showing in his first month in the big leagues. In 24 games, the 23-year-old third baseman has hit .316 with six home runs, 21 RBI and a .922 OPS.

One scout who watched the Red Sox recently compared Middlebrooks' power potential to that of Angels slugger Mark Trumbo.

"He's the real deal," another scout said. "A real exciting player."

The emergence of Middlebrooks has helped revive the Red Sox, even with Jacoby Ellsbury still on the disabled list and Dustin Pedroia currently out with a thumb injury.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has also improved greatly, both offensively and defensively, and Valentine has overcome a shaky start and gained more support in the clubhouse.

"It's like he and Gonzalez are joined at the hip now," said one scout who watched the Red Sox. "It's obvious that (David Ortiz) is on (Valentine's) side now, too."

The Red Sox have also told teams that they would like to trade for a pitcher, with some speculating that Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington will attempt to deal with his former boss, Theo Epstein. Epstein's Cubs will likely trade Matt Garza and/or Ryan Dempster this summer.

The Red Sox have been in last place or tied for last every day of the season so far, but they ended May just three games out in the American League East.

"If they get their guys healthy, I'd pick them to win that division," one of the scouts said.


 
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