The Boston Red Sox have tried to acquire the new American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez before, and it’s time general manager Theo Epstein tries again.

Hernandez signed a multi-year extension in January with the Seattle Mariners, giving them a Cy Young-caliber ace for years to come.

Seattle is a struggling team right now and has many areas it needs to improve upon, both on offense and the pitching staff.

If the Mariners decide to put King Felix on the trading the block, the Red Sox are the best team to trade with because of the quality of talent at the big league and minor league levels Boston possesses. 

Why would the Mariners dare to put Hernandez on the block?

Because they need many more quality players to be a legitimate contender, and Hernandez’s value is as high as it’s ever been.

In 2009, the Red Sox, Mariners and Padres discussed a trade that would have been an all-time blockbuster, but it did not happen due to the reluctance of Seattle to part ways with Hernandez. 

The Red Sox reportedly offered Seattle eight of their better prospects and told them to choose any five of them for Hernandez alone. 

According to The Seattle Times, Boston chose Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Justin Masterson, Daniel Bard, Nick Hagadone, Felix Doubront, Josh Reddick and Yamaico Navarro as the eight prospects available.

The deal also would have involved Adrian Gonzalez going to Seattle, while the Padres would receive prospects from Boston as well.

Looking back, Red Sox fans are glad Epstein did not have a chance to execute this trade.

For all the talent Hernandez has, almost all of these prospects have had major roles at the big league level or have been used to acquire other great players (e.g. Masterson was traded for Victor Martinez in 2009).

The Red Sox still have an interest in Hernandez this offseason but will not offer that many quality prospects again. Daniel Bard is the future closer, and Buchholz has become an All-Star-caliber starter.

Epstein is not armed with a lot of cash this offseason, and that can partly be attributed to the Red Sox ownership group’s purchase of the English soccer club Liverpool.

Boston’s best way to improve for 2011 is via trade. Reports from many media sources revealed the Red Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks have discussed a potential trade involving Justin Upton, although Arizona’s initial asking price was rebuffed by Epstein.

Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres remains the Red Sox’s priority this season, but offseason surgery has teams a bit worried about trading for him now, and they will likely wait until the trade deadline next July before making a move.

Felix Hernandez is a great pitcher and deservedly won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award. But he has too much value for the Mariners not to consider trading him, because the return would help the Mariners build a contender for many years to come.

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