Some Boston Red Sox trades don’t amount to much for either side
As the 2020 trade deadline approached, a Boston Red Sox club well on their way to finishing at the bottom of their division was forced to sell. The deconstruction of a recent championship team began before that season but another piece of the roster’s soul was chipped away when fan-favorite Mitch Moreland was traded to the San Diego Padres.
Much has changed since the dark days of that pandemic-shortened season. The Red Sox bounced back with a Wild Card berth and a surprising run to the ALCS last year. They announced their return to the circle of World Series contenders by signing star free-agent Trevor Story to a 6-year, $140 million deal.
To clear a spot for Story on the 40-man roster, Boston designated outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario for assignment. The roster move was made one day after third base prospect Hudson Potts was designated for assignment after the Red Sox claimed right-handed pitcher Kyle Tyler off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
Within the span of 24 hours, the Red Sox banished both prospects that they acquired in the Moreland trade.
Rosario spent last season with Double-A Portland, where he posted a .232/.335/.307 batting line with three home runs. His strong 12.3% walk rate was offset by a concerning 27.9% strikeout rate. He has speed and the tools to develop into a solid center fielder but his knack for drawing walks isn’t enough to ignore his lack of power or ability to make contact.
Potts was a first-round pick of the Padres in 2016 but he’s never lived up to his draft pedigree. He spent last season in Double-A, hitting a meager .217/.264/.399 with an alarming 32.8% strikeout rate.
Both players had been added to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft but neither had a realistic chance to make their major league debut in Boston anytime soon.
The Red Sox have about a week to trade these players or place them on outright waivers, at which point any of the other 29 clubs could place a claim. It’s possible that they could slip through waivers unclaimed, allowing the Red Sox to bring them back without taking up a spot on their 40-man roster. However, that Boston was even willing to risk losing them for nothing shows how far their stock has fallen.
Giving up on these prospects long before they approached the big leagues would lead you to believe that Chaim Bloom came out on the losing end of this trade but the Padres weren’t exactly celebrating either.
Moreland hit .203/.247/.362 with two home runs in 20 games down the stretch in San Diego. He performed better in the postseason, going 4-for-8 with a double and an RBI, but his presence didn’t move the needle much as the Padres were swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Following his brief stint in San Diego, Moreland quickly moved on to a one-year deal with the Oakland A’s.
Moreland started the 2020 season hot for the Red Sox, hitting .328/.430/.746 with eight home runs in 22 games. That boosted his trade value enough to bring back a decent return for his expiring contact. Buyer’s remorse quickly sank in for the Padres when Moreland’s production fell off a cliff as soon as they acquired him.
It didn’t work out for Moreland in San Diego but the Red Sox didn’t end up getting much on their side of the deal either. The best they can say is that they shed the remainder of Moreland’s contract, which didn’t amount to much at that point of the shortened season. While “financial flexibility” was the key phrase on the minds of Red Sox owners that year, the minimal savings were overshadowed by backlash from a frustrated fan base. Moreland was one of the few silver linings of a dismal season. It’s clear why the Red Sox had to trade him but it was still a tough pill to swallow.
The Red Sox were going nowhere fast that season and hanging on to Moreland wasn’t going to change that. The Padres expected Moreland’s hot bat and postseason experience to help push them into contention but that plan clearly backfired. There wasn’t another comparable option on the market that the Padres could have acquired at the same price who would have led them to victory over the juggernaut Dodgers though.
All players involved in the trade have moved on without making any notable impact on the organization. Neither side can claim to have won the trade but it’s hard to blame either team for losing the trade when they didn’t give up anything that wasn’t expendable. The Padres took a shot in a year they were contenting and they have no reason to regret giving up the package that it cost. Moreland wasn’t going to be re-signed by the Red Sox so dealing him for a pair of prospects who added depth to their minor league system was better than letting him walk for nothing after the season.
The best trades are the ones where both sides win. Nobody won this deal. If anything, it feels neutral for both teams.