BOSTON -- A trade of Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis could happen at any time now, two officials involved in trade talks told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney. On Friday night, the Chicago White Sox were perceived to be one of the frontrunners.
The Red Sox have talked with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks about Youkilis, among other teams. One executive involved indicated on Friday night the White Sox were thought to be competing with an NL team, and the Red Sox were going through the process of trying to nudge offers one last time.
Arizona is said to be out of the running. The Braves reportedly have scouted Youkilis repeatedly in the past week.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he talked with Youkilis on Friday about decreased playing time. Youkilis, while not happy about it, understood Valentine's decision.
"He doesn't necessarily totally agree with it and doesn't wake up in the morning and hope that's the case, but I think the professional person that Kevin is, he understands it," Valentine said. "Yes, I think he's fine."
For the first time since coming off the disabled list on May 22, Youkilis is out of the starting lineup for two consecutive games. The fact that it comes in the wake of a monster performance by fellow third baseman Will Middlebrooks on Thursday night begs the question: Has there been a concrete shift at third base from the veteran Youkilis to the rookie Middlebrooks?
For Friday night's series opener against Atlanta, Valentine said he's simply going with the guy who is swinging a good bat.
"Today, I'm riding the hot hand," Valentine said. "Tomorrow might not be the case. I always reserve the right to change my mind."
But Valentine did say he had a discussion with Youkilis about the situation and expects his veteran to adjust to any part-time role that emerges.
Middlebrooks hammered a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday, keying a comeback victory for the Sox over Miami. He had four RBIs in the game and has 31 in just 38 games since being promoted to Boston. That represents the most RBIs by a Red Sox player in 38 games since Walt Dropo in 1949-50.
Meanwhile, Youkilis is hitting only .174 (8 for 46) with no home runs and 10 strikeouts in June during which he has been surrounded by trade rumors.
For several days, Valentine was able to appease the hot-hitting rookie and the struggling vet, but that was because of a shortage of healthy outfielders, which necessitated Adrian Gonzalez's move to right field and enabled Youkilis to play first base. With Cody Ross back and Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish contributing, Gonzalez can slide back to first, where he has won three Gold Gloves.
Valentine hinted the more stable outfield gives him more reason to keep Gonzalez planted at first, which would necessitate a daily decision regarding Youkilis and Middlebrooks.
"We'll take it day by day, but if I had my druthers, he'd stay at first," Valentine said of Gonzalez. "The reason he didn't was because of necessity."
That necessity is not there right now, and with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury taking steps toward an eventual return, the Sox may actually have a surplus of outfielders at some point. Right now they have a surplus of third basemen, which will create a daily lineup drama until the situation changes.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com, was used in this report.