Who would the centerpiece be?
The top prospect in the Machado deal was outfielder Yusniel Diaz who is ranked the 84th overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. That puts him in the same range as Michael Chavis (63) and Jay Groome (76). If Britton is not worth as much as Machado, however, that could mean both should be off the table. Especially if the market for relievers in contract years is down, as the Familia trade indicates. So what else can the Red Sox offer? To many, Bryan Mata has leapfrogged the injured Jay Groome to become the top pitching prospect in the system. His ceiling isn’t as high, but he’s healthy and has been productive despite being young for the league he’s playing in. If push comes to shove, I’d probably rather hang on to the ceiling Groome offers than the current success of Mata. But it would still sting to see him as the centerpiece.
Beyond Mata, and assuming this year’s draftees won’t be on the table, there’s Tanner Houck, who has great late inning potential in the bullpen if he doesn’t pan out as a starter. Then there are Mike Shawaryn and Jalen Beeks who are near major league ready starting pitchers with solid floors but limited ceilings. Josh Ockimey is looking increasingly like the strong side of a platoon at first base which has some value. Then there is C.J. Chatham, a big solid-fielding shortstop who makes good contact but lacks in game power. And finally we have Bobby Dalbec, who has been absolutely mashing after a lost 2017 season and huge questions about his strikeout rate. That rounds out the current top 10 according to soxprospects.com.
So what would a package look like?
With the caveat that this is all speculation and is based on a fluid and often unpredictable market, let’s say the centerpiece ends up being Bryan Mata. It’s a steep price to pay, but the Red Sox are all in on this contention window. Plus, it’s Dave Dombrowski. He’s contractually obligated to make every big ticket trade hurt for prospect lovers. What else could we see added, though? Josh Ockimey doesn’t make much sense for the O’s unless they pull a Pablo Sandoval with Chris Davis. I doubt they’re ready to pull that particular plug, though. So someone like Bobby Dalbec is more likely to be on their radar. Ryan Mountcastle is their answer at third long term, but Dalbec could slide over to 1st and move Chris Davis to DH. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Dalbec could play a passable corner outfield given his arm strength.
After that, it would just be filler types with upside. Maybe a starting pitcher like Darwinzon Hernandez or a near major league ready reliever like Travis Lakins. Likewise, Ty Buttrey could be intriguing to the Orioles front office. That leaves us with something in the vein of Mata, Dalbec, Buttrey, and probably a far away lotto ticket type with an impact tool like the speedy Tyler Hill or the raw power-speed combo of Tyler Dearden. Is it too much to pay? That’s all relative. It would certainly sting to see that much talent go out for a relief pitching rental. But this Red Sox team has a fairly specific window where they can expect to be among the elite teams in the majors and it makes sense to expend whatever resources are necessary to capitalize on that window.
As it stands, it’s hard to imagine this bullpen holding up against the Yankees or Astros in the playoffs. Or even the surging Indians. Never mind the Dodgers or the Cubs if they are lucky enough to reach the World Series. Rip the band-aid off and go for it. Don’t be that guy who ends up losing 95% of your chips on the river because you wouldn’t call a bet that puts you all-in. At this point, you’ve gotta see that last card. You’re pot committed. What would you give up for Britton? Is the above too much? Not enough? Let us know in the comments!