Rumors that Kevin Youkilis would be traded out of Boston swirled Saturday night when he was benched for the second straight night.
Youkilis, who is hitting .225/.311/.359 in 41 games this season, is back in the Red Sox lineup on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves, but he has seen his numbers plummet since his peak in 2009. Since then he has played fewer than 120 games per season for Boston as injuries and ineffectiveness have robbed him of kind of production that helped the Red Sox to two world titles.
The decline in the veteran corner infielder's skills, as well as the rise of rookie Will Middlebrooks have led to reports that the Red Sox are seeking a trading partner for Youkilis. Bobby Valentine told Youkilis that his playing time would be more limited as long as Middlebrooks was swinging such a hot bat.
The Chicago White Sox are reportedly "approaching their final stages" in a deal for the 33-year-old, but the Dodgers and Indians have been linked to the trade discussions as well. The Braves, Pirates and Diamondbacks were also involved at one point, but it appears their interest has cooled.
FOX's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Red Sox would be willing to eat a substantial portion of Youkilis' remaining salary. He is under contract for $12 million this year, $8 million of which is still left to be paid, but there are reports that Boston is willing to pay as much as $5 million of the remaining money.
Youkilis would at least compete for, if not outright take, the White Sox third base spot from Orlando Hudson, but it is unclear what the Red Sox might be asking in return. Despite being fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox are only 5.5 games back of division leading New York and are one of six teams within a game and a half of a wild card spot.
They would need to get something more than a prospect that is not ready for prime time back.
Though Youkilis is back in the lineup today, the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham reports that it will have no effect on trade discussions and that Youkilis could still be dealt at any time.