Well, when you’re trying to make an omelette, you gotta break a few good eggs. Or, in this case, trade them.
The Boston Red Sox just hatched a big trade by adding reliever Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres for four prospects, including outfielder Manuel Margot. Many people in the Red Sox organization and in Red Sox Nation felt that Margot was a great talent; apparently, so did the Padres. While Margot may have had a possible future in the Red Sox outfield, Boston’s president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski felt differently.
And, he rightly should have. Margot’s value as an asset in the Kimbrel deal was worth more than he was going to be for the Red Sox in the long term.
The 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic is ranked 25th on MLB.com‘s prospect ranking list, after playing the 2015 season for Boston’s Double-A affiliate the Portland Sea Dogs. In 64 games, Margot used his righty bat to hit a slash line of .271/.326/.419, with three home runs and 33 RBIs to his credit. He even stole 19 bases.
Those numbers sound great, until you realize that Margot was not the only hot Red Sox prospect in the outfield.
Andrew Benintendi was drafted seventh overall by Boston in the 2015 draft and was scorching hot in the minors. After starting in Class-A Lowell for 35 games, Benintendi quickly moved up the ranks to Class-A(Advanced) Greenville where he swung his lefty bat for a slash line of .351/.430/.581, with four homers and 16 RBIs in just 19 games. He even walked more than he struck out, albeit by one extra free base.
When Margot played for Greenville, back in 2014 after two full years in Rookie ball and Class-A Lowell, he hit .286/.355/.449 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 99 games, striking out 12 more times than he walked.
Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks outfielder Andrew Benintendi (16). Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Benintendi’s efforts have brought him quickly up the MLB prospect ranks to sit at number 62, just nine outfielders behind Margot. Seven of the names in between played in Double-A, which demonstrates how little there is between the two players. Benintendi’s name is mentioned with eight other outfielders, including Margot, who are either older than him or have played in a division higher than him.
According to MLB.com, Benintendi “is a basestealing threat and a quality defender in center field. His worst tool is his arm, yet it grades as average and allows him to play any of the three outfield positions.” Scouts have him hitting just as well as Margot, hitting harder than Margot, running almost as fast as Margot, with identical arms and range in the outfield. With these similarities, and possibly a keener eye at the plate, Benintendi’s presence made Margot expendable, which explains Margot’s part in the packaged deal for Kimbrel.
Jeff Todd of MLBTradeRumors.com stated that “Boston will pick up three years of control over Kimbrel. The contract includes a $24MM guarantee over the next two seasons and a $13MM club option in 2018 that carries a $1MM buyout. The Sox will be responsible for the entirety of Kimbrel’s remaining salary in the deal.” If and when Boston’s regular ace closer Koji Uehara comes back from injury, the Red Sox will have two dominant arms in their bullpen for the price of four minor league prospects, one of whom was already replaced in this year’s draft.
Now, Dombrowski can still use other assets like Jackie Bradley Jr. to entice any other club in a trade, without having to use him in the Kimbrel deal. Although rumors are circulating that Dombrowski is not going to make another big deal and will try to add an ace through free agency, having Bradley Jr. and other big chips still to use at the trade table makes it much easier if the moment arises.
Margot was valuable for the Red Sox organization. His play will dictate a quick rise to the majors soon, if not next season; however, it won’t be in a Red Sox uniform. His numbers were enticing enough to help Boston sure up their struggling bullpen, by bringing a possible Superman to save the day. His numbers were also deemed replaceable by a first round draft pick. Every way you look at it, Margot’s efforts helped make the trade decision an easy one for both teams involved, and for that Red Sox Nation should thank him.