The Boston Red Sox haven't made many moves this offseason. Besides signing Lucas Giolito, trading Chris Sale for Vaughn Grissom (and eating Sale's money), and swapping Alex Verdugo to New York to sign Tyler O'Neill, the moves they have made haven't been noteworthy.
That's because, instead of signing players with proven, big-league experience, the Red Sox organization is placing its success in the hands of its prospects.
Most of them are between the ages of 19 and 22. Boston's fate rests with college-age kids.
This is not to suggest that the Red Sox's prospect pool is not a talented one. In fact, the Sox had four prospects make Baseball America's Top 100 list this year.
But expecting a 22-year-old rookie to be able to make an immediate, fortune-changing impact is unrealistic, to say the least. And that expectation places so much pressure on the shoulders of players whose careers have barely started.
The Red Sox front office seems to believe that prospects come with a guarantee that proven players don't. There are a thousand other outcomes that could occur before any of these players reach the major leagues. A season-ending injury could set any one of them back with a yearlong recovery ahead, which happened to Miguel Bleis early last season and Mayer at the midpoint. The players could stagnate and simply never make an impact in the league, in a Jeter Downs-esque turn of events. Downs still has time, but he hasn't been the player he was projected to be. Downs came to Boston in the Mookie Betts trade, by the way. The one that was supposed to make the future Red Sox better than they would've been if they'd just extended Betts in the first place.
Craig Breslow, the Sox's new Chief Baseball Officer, is already spouting claims that Boston's prospects could lead it to salvation. He believes that the betterment of the team must come at the hands of improved young players.
"It’s going to require aggressive player development in the minor leagues and the major leagues so guys that we think are the next wave — [Marcelo] Mayer and [Roman] Anthony and [Kyle] Teel, that group — are not just big leaguers but impact big leaguers," Breslow said in a recent conversation with The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham.
"The convergence of all those pieces is the fastest path to a World Series team."
The fact of the matter is that the Red Sox's front office's vision, as Breslow described it, is quite possibly the slowest path to a World Series victory. But it's the cheapest. And Red Sox Nation is all too aware of John Henry's attitude toward spending money.
The Red Sox are putting the future of the team on the backs of prospects
When players arrive in MLB from the minors, it represents the first time they face consistent, big-league-caliber pitching and hitting. It's the first time they're expected to show up to 162 games. There's absolutely no promise that comes with a prospect — there are hopes, but never promises.
The Red Sox prospect pool also lacks pitching candidates, and unreliable pitching is consistently Boston's biggest issue. The coming wave of prospects doesn't remedy the Red Sox's biggest problem. How the front office plans to change the direction of the team this way, without dealing some budding bats for established pitching, we have no idea.
Expecting 20-year-olds to lace up their cleats and immediately change the direction of the Red Sox as a team is ridiculous, and it's even more ridiculous to put such an expectation on the heads of recent children.
Breslow has made comments that the Red Sox rotation is likely set. This probably means the Sox are done shopping, and relying on prospects is the plan they're going forward with for 2024 — whether it's half-baked, or not.
No stress to the young guys, but the front office is putting the fate of the Red Sox in your hands, and the weight of the expectations of Red Sox Nation on your shoulders.