Who doesn’t love prospects? They are the perennial last station on the Brag Train for teams and their fans unable to catch the World Series Express. We tanked again this year? Great! Now we get first pick in the draft! All according to plan.
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I admit I also am guilty of favoring a strong farm system above all else, much as now former Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington was. Thinking logically though, the viewpoint is somewhat skewed. A healthy farm is a plus in anybody’s book, but potential is only that, potential. All too often prospects peak before their time or simply not at all. Sure, there’s born success stories that are unlikely not to pay dividends for patience (Mookie Betts, looking at you). Even so, keeping what many consider the strongest farm system in baseball shouldn’t be done at the behest of seeking to obtain the strongest team in baseball.
So it should come as no surprise that last night Jason Mastrodonato, Red Sox Beat writer for the Boston Herald tweeted the following;
I felt a great disturbance in the Red Sox Nation, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror at the thought of their favorite prospect being traded. I fear something terrible has happened.
Looking at it with a level head though, not much is to be surprising here and even less to be concerned about. For a start, new Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has been left with a solid base upon which to build. The requirements of an ace pitcher can be met through free-agency and additions to the bullpen are unlikely to see seismic shifts in a flourishing Boston farm. So too, while rebuilding teams’ general managers may lick their chops at the Sox prospects, they will find themselves in a difficult position to negotiate much for an extra outfield piece or the like.
Dombrowski himself has a good record of “winning” trades, such as his acquisition of Max Scherzer for the Detroit Tigers who would subsequently flourish, culminating in a Cy Young award and ultimately the Washington Nationals offering him one of most lucrative contracts for a pitcher in baseball history. If that doesn’t inspire confidence, consider Dombrowski has surrounded himself with a solid front office with Mike Hazen as Red Sox General Manager, Frank Wren as Senior Vice President of Baseball Ops, Brian Bannister as a pitching analytics specialist and Chris Mears as a pitching cross-checker. A single trigger-happy individual holding the reigns can all-too-easily sell us down the river to fund No, No, Nanette, but a group of sane voices surrounding an astute and experienced builder like Dombrowski should inspire more confidence.
That all said, I feel “blow up the farm system” is what it is. Headline grabbing. Sensationalist. Highly unlikely. For a start, there’s way too much talent in the Red Sox minors for one single offseason to erase entirely. On top of that, Dombrowski was already quite candid in his media press conference last week, naming several prospects that impressed him. Notably pitchers Anderson Espinoza and Michael Kopech, both who throw heat in the high 90s, have the mechanics and delivery that makes them pretty hard to pass on going forward. Others like Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi are All-Stars in the making and would require a serious return, of mega proportions, to consider a trade.
And that’s the rub. Boston has a system deep and rich in quantity sure, but all the more so quality. The talent there is worth its weight in gold and is unlikely to be on the table for anything short of top flight and controllable return. It’s obviously too early to say for sure what exactly will transpire in the offseason, but with Dombrowski determined for the Red Sox to return to contention you can be sure it won’t be quiet.
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