Red Sox power improvement options dampened by scarcity of MLB prospects
By Earl Nash
There are three methods to improve the Red Sox power: sign free agents, trade prospects, and promote organizational prospects.
The Boston Red Sox have three primary methods for adding offensive power to the roster:
- Signing a free agent.
- Trading prospects for proven MLB players.
- Promoting from Boston’s Minor league teams.
Let’s break down these options to see which patch best suits the Red Sox this winter.
SIGNING A FREE AGENT
Although President of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, may not be signing a free agent power hitter on the timetable of Red Sox Nation cranks, sources say that he remains focused on J.D. Martinez (45 homers in 432 at-bats last season) and appears to be initiating contact with his agent, Scott Boras.
MLB.com’s Ian Browne writes that Dombrowski is engaged in the negotiation process with Boras and has made a 5-year contract offer of unknown amount. Browne implies that, although there is no deal yet, Dombrowski is focused on acquiring Martinez.
Unwilling to be rushed into a deal by frantic Red Sox cranks, Dombrowski says:
“There is no deadline in the offseason.”
Signing a free agent avoids depleting the farm system and, in the case of Manny Machado, settling for a rental and taking your chances on the length and amount of a contract.
Signing Martinez would not require losing any players and it would set a contract for 5-10 years.
TRADING PROSPECTS and PROMOTING FROM WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION
We can address these other two methods as a pair, as they both rely on the quantity and quality and MLB-readiness of Boston’s prospects in the organization pipeline.
If you go to the MLB Prospect Pipeline page that lists the Red Sox top prospects, you might feel encouraged, but reviewing the list of the Top 100 Prospects in MLB can be educational and depressing.
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If you are seeking to upgrade your team’s power output, you must have highly-ranked prospects to trade; like a package of young pitchers to the White Sox for first baseman Jose Abreu.
Or, maybe you have a power hitting prospect, like Shohei Ohtani [Angels], Victor Robles [Nationals], Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. [Blue Jays], Eloy Jimenez [White Sox], or Ronald Acuna [Braves], who is ready to step right into a power slot in your batting order.
Or, maybe you don’t.
No knock on Red Sox No. 2 prospect, Michael Chavis or No. 3 ranked Sam Travis, but third baseman Chavis [who is the likely replacement for Dustin Pedroia, due to his range], barely makes the MLB Top 100 in slot No. 97 and Travis did not make the cut.
The only other Red Sox farmhand to make the Top 100 is lefty pitcher Jason Groome, who is just 19, but very highly rated by MLB prospect pipeline.
"“Groome works with a 90-95 mph fastball that peaks at 97 with armside run, and he could throw harder as he gets stronger. Nevertheless, his best pitch is a curveball with power and depth that many evaluators believed was the best breaking ball in the 2016 Draft. Though he had little use for a changeup during his amateur career, he has some feel for the pitch and it features some promising sink.Groome’s 6-foot-6 frame is built for durability and he uses it to generate good downhill plane on his pitches. His athleticism enables him to repeat his clean mechanics and fill the strike zone. He has the potential to become an ace if his makeup issues don’t get in his way, and he could be the best pitcher signed and developed by the Red Sox since Roger Clemens.”"
Groome is your good news, but the bad news is that just two Red Sox prospects made to MLB Top 100 list: Groome [No. 43] and Chavis [No. 97].
If you are desperate for some glimmer of hope, you can check the Baseball America PROSPECT HANDBOOK 2017 on page 68 and read about highly rated [60 of 80] third baseman, Bobby Dalbec, who they forecast to become a starter in MLB.
“He slugged .674 in the New York-Penn League thanks to impressive bat speed and a power hitter’s extension through the ball. He certainly has the arm for third base.”
Next: Red Sox: Why the free agent market has been slow this winter
That said, if “Little Mother” Dombrowski considers improving the Red Sox offensive potency by trade or by promotion from within, he will remind himself that somebody left the prospect cupboard bare.