Friday, January 31, 2014

Trading the Farm

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.


  1. I would bet if Ben offered the top 5 prospects for Trout, the Angels would laugh and hang up. Trout is going to be a MVP candidate every year for the next 10 years. Not only that he will be under team control for many years and is the face of their franchise. I would venture to guess that even if Ben offered the top 10 prospects the Angels would still hang up, just without the laugh.

  2. Maybe. Although, the Tigers got Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins. Perhaps Mike Stanton is a better player to use in the exercise.

  3. Having followed the Sox for a long time, I can't remember a time when they have had so much minor league talent and no bad contracts. Or even just the bad contracts part. The prospects certainly are currency. I agree that there's no way the Angels trade Trout. If they even entertained that for a second I bet that their trade partner would have to take a Pujols or Hamilton contract, too because right now they look horrible. Now I bet S36 would say, "great, accept it right away" but do you really want to over-pay an older player for what he did years ago? For the next several years? I wouldn't.

  4. Oh, and the full roster blocking the youngsters is not an issue when you consider that the Sox don't have any long term contracts. Only Betts is blocked by Pedrioia and Betts can play shortstop, too. Some have said that Owens will be the Kershaw. Of course, those people were his teammates and not actual scouts. Still, he looks like he'll be pretty good.
    By the way, the Yankees had 2 players in the top 100 and as an organization they were ranked #20. Trading the Sox top 5 would put them at around the bottom because their 2 remaining prospects are ranked at the bottom of the 100.

  5. The Marlins and Angles are in opposite ends of the baseball universe. One is a high payroll team and one is a trade them off before we have to pay them team. For the top 5 prospects Miami just may trade Stanton. I would hate for that to happen though. How many times have the Sox got a guaranteed power hitter through the years that turned out as well as everyone thought it would. Manny is the only one I can think of and most were happy to see him go. (But he sure has some great seasons as a Red Sox. I don't like the way it ended but it sure was a good ride.)

    Also when the Cabrera trade happened he was battling some off-field problems that also factored into the trade. Looks as though is has handled that demon pretty well now though.

  6. Actually, I could probably handle taking on Hamilton if it meant Trout too. He's relatively short money. The Sox like to overpay for short deals, right? He's got, what, 4 years left? Pujols would be tougher only because the Sox don't have a spot for him. They're already paying a DH and first baseman. Unless he wants to go back to the outfield. Plus, I always wondered about that "personal servives" part of the deal, where he gets a job in the front office for ten years, or whatever, after he retires. Does a team that trades for him have to do that, or does he go back to the Angels?


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