The Yankees Reload: What it Means for the Red Sox

Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; USA outfielder Clint Frazier hits a RBI double in the third inning during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; USA outfielder Clint Frazier hits a RBI double in the third inning during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Yankees were more than active before the trade deadline. What does this mean for the Boston Red Sox? 

If the few weeks prior to the MLB trade deadline were any indicator, the New York Yankees have given up on the 2016 season. In an uncharacteristic series of moves that involved trading veteran talent for young prospects, the Yankees brought in a cohort of the league’s top prospects, resulting in their now having one of the most formidable farm systems in Major League Baseball.

The most notable of the five trades made by the Yankees was their sending closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. In return, the Yankees received Cubs top prospect Gleyber Torres, a shortstop who Baseball America ranked as the 46th best prospect in baseball, and who MLB Pipeline now ranks as the Yankees’ second best prospect. New York also received outfielders Rashad Crawford and Billy McKinney (who now ranks as the organization’s 16th best prospect), as well as former Yankee pitcher Adam Warren.

As uncharacteristic as it was for Yankees GM Brian Cashman to trade away a veteran star like Chapman, it was even more uncharacteristic for Cubs GM Theo Epstein, the uncredited architect of this young Red Sox offense, to sacrifice such promising  talent. While Epstein clearly believes that Chapman puts the Cubs in a better position to win a World Series ring this fall, it is even more clear that the Yankees have the potential to come out way ahead in this deal.

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After Chapman was traded, many believed that All-Star reliever Andrew Miller would fill the role of closer; however, just six days later, the Yankees traded him to the Cleveland Indians, another team who believes they have a shot at bringing home a championship. In return, the Yankees received outfielder Clint Frazier, who is now considered to be their top prospect, and one of the fifty best in baseball. The fifth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Frazier has the speed to excel in centerfield, and the power to dominate at the plate. In addition to Frazier, the Yankees acquired left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield, who is now considered to be their seventh best prospect. They also received pitchers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.

While the two aforementioned trades are enough to excite any Yankees fan, Cashman wasn’t done. With just an hour left before the deadline, Cashman dealt Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate, who is considered to be the Yankees eleventh best prospect. While injuries have prevented Tate from reaching his full potential, he is equipped with an excellent fastball and slider that could prove valuable down the road. They also received pitchers Erik Swanson and Nick Green.

The final two trades made by the Yankees were acquiring pitcher Tyler Clippard in exchange for prospect Vicente Campos, and sending pitcher Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh Pirates for two players to be named later.

In short, the Yankees are stacked; they have reloaded and are ready for the future.

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This trade deadline season, the Red Sox were as inactive as the Yankees were active. Many fans (myself included) wanted the Red Sox to trade away prospects to bring in a starting pitcher (Chris Sale) to propel the team to the World Series.

And while it was frustrating that the Red Sox front office was unable to make a deal, there may be a silver lining. With the likes of Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Michael Kopech and more, the Red Sox farm system still holds an edge over the Yankees’. And that’s important.

If the Yankees are going to focus on building an elite team three to five years down the road, it is crucial that the Red Sox put themselves in a position to remain competitive. It also places the Red Sox in a bit of a pickle.

On one hand, the team needs to secure another elite arm if it hopes to win a World Series, on the other, they may have to weaken their farm system, and risk being surpassed by the Yankees in the future, to do it.

The decision to keep players like Benintendi and Devers shows that they are committed to grooming the next generation of stars, and understand the risk of sacrificing a farm system full of All-Stars for one All-Star now. In some cases, it may be worth it.

If the Cubs are able to get to the World Series, and Chapman pitches shutout innings in close games, then the trade will be worth it. And perhaps that is the secret: keep your prospects until you can secure that one player who can throw you over the edge, not bring you to it.

Next: Cleaning out Red Sox roster closet

In all likelihood, Sale was probably not going to be that player. And that fact, combined with the prospect reloading of the New York Yankees, is why I am now happy that the Red Sox farm system has remained in tact.