I’m not a “prospects” guy. I’m a proven talent sort of guy. I will trade prospects for proven talent any day of the week. In the right sort of deal, of course. I’m not talking about trading a young star for a middle reliever on his last legs. (Although, I will always think the Bagwell trade wasn’t nearly as bad as people have revised history to make it.) I’m talking about getting quality young talent back in exchange for potential young talent. Think Pavano and Armas for Pedro. Or Ramirez and Sanchez for Beckett. So, when I’ve been reading all the prospect rankings that various outlets have been releasing, I start to daydream a little bit. When I saw that the Sox have seven prospects in the ESPN top 100, my initial reaction was, “Woohoo! Load up the truck for Mike Trout!”
Of course, that wasn’t a realistic reaction. That trade wouldn’t happen. Or, would it?
Just for fun, let’s dive into fantasy land. The rumor is that Theo once offered the Mariners their pick of four or five player for Felix Hernandez. What if Ben Cherington called up the Angels and said, “We want Mike Trout. You can pick five players to have back in trade.”
On the ESPN list, the top five prospects (who you would assume the Angels would pick) are #2 Xander Bogaerts, #42 Henry Owens, #51 Bradley Jr, #53 Garin Cecchini, and #56 Blake Swihart.
That would leave two players left on the top 100 list, Mookie Betts, and Matt Barnes. Two players on the top 100 is a slightly below average farm system, if you assume each team should average 3. In reality, since the best teams have 5-7 players, having two would rank you pretty high. So, even after dumping the farm, you’d still be left with a decent farm.
I know what the initial reaction probably is. “You can’t touch Bogaerts!” And, I can understand that. For one thing, it would leave a physical hole at short for 2014. You’d need to sign Drew to plug the new hole. Bogaerts also has the potential to be a special player. But, you’d be getting a player back who has shown that he is a special player. I don’t think you can get too upset about that.
Owens could end up being a #2 or #3 starter. But, the rotation is pretty full at the moment, with Workman and Doubront ready to fill up some spots for the long haul. If Lester gets his extension, rotation help suddenly isn’t urgent.
Bradley could be good, but you’re getting a CF in the trade, remember? Cecchini is blocked a bit by Middlebrooks, so that wouldn’t hurt too much. Swihart could be a good catcher, but the Sox have another good catcher in the system. And, that’s it.
You’d miss Bogaerts, but have Trout and two of the top100 prospects left.
I wonder if the Angels would make that deal.
But, that’s not even the point.
That trade, where you empty the farm system, doesn’t look terrible. So, why not some lesser deals? What about trading two of them for a nice young player?
Let’s take this farm system out for a spin, and see what it can get us. This is an opportunity. Most of the other teams with good farm systems are good for a reason. The major league team is terrible, so they get lots of high draft picks. The Astros have the best system. But, they have way too many holes to start trading 4-for-1. The Sox don’t have “too many” holes. So, trimming the fat makes a lot of sense. Maybe get a star left fielder. Maybe swap three pitchers for one pitcher. Let’s focus.
And maybe give the Angels a call, just in case.