CHICAGO - Though it would seem the Red Sox have a set outfield - with Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Coco Crisp - they submitted a waiver claim for the Padres' Brian Giles Wednesday, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
But that does not necessarily mean the Sox are genuinely interested in working out a trade for the 37-year-old. There are indications that part of the reason the Sox put in the claim was to block Giles from heading to one of the two teams with better records in the American League, the Rays or Angels, though the Rays would be the more likely candidate.
The claim means the Sox and Padres could work out a trade for Giles, the Padres could simply let him go to the Sox, or San Diego could pull him back off waivers, though any of those options would have to be completed within a 48-hour period that ends today.
Giles's agent, Joe Bick, declined to comment on the matter.
There are complications with any potential move, given that the Red Sox are one of eight teams to which Giles can block a deal, according to the limited no-trade provision in his contract.
But there is financial incentive for Giles to approve a trade. In addition to the $9 million he is being paid this season, he gets $2 million if he's traded. His contract has a club option for 2009, which pays him $9 million, or $11 million if he is dealt. There is also a $3 million buyout on the option.
The money (and the chance to play for a team in a pennant race) would seem to be the big enticement for Giles to waive his no-trade clause, as it wouldn't be playing time. Giles, who starts in San Diego, would not have that chance (barring injury) in Boston. He has played just three games at a position other than right field (all in center) over the past three seasons, a position manned by Drew, an All-Star, for the Sox. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres have expressed interest in bringing Giles back in 2009.
With injuries slowing Mike Lowell and David Ortiz in recent weeks, there could be concerns with the Sox' offense. Though Ortiz hit well immediately after returning from the disabled list after a left wrist injury, going 9 for 23 (.391) in his first six games, he has just three hits (all singles) in his last 25 at-bats (.120) in the six games since. Lowell, who has played through an ailing right hip, in which he got an injection Monday, is batting just .209 since July 1 (24 for 115) with one home run, 16 RBIs, and 10 runs. He is hitless in the last two games, after sitting out Monday.
Though Giles was held out of the Padres' starting lineup yesterday against the Mets, he pinch hit in the eighth inning, grounding out. This season, his 14th in the majors, Giles is hitting .295 with six home runs and 37 RBIs in 103 games. He has long been known for getting on base, with a career percentage of .404 (.390 this season).
While on-base percentage is certainly a statistic valued by the Sox, more pressing needs would be bullpen help and power. Though Giles hit more than 30 home runs in four straight seasons, including 39 in 1999 with the Pirates, he hasn't hit as many as 20 since 2004.
There was a similar scenario with the Rays and Red Sox in 2006. The Sox had put Adam Stern on waivers so he could be dealt to the Orioles for catcher Javy Lopez. But the Rays put a claim on Stern, leading the Sox to pull him back, then ship him to Baltimore in the offseason as the player to be named later. That claim was reportedly in retaliation for the Rays' belief that the Sox contacted Julio Lugo's agent when he was still playing for Tampa Bay.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.