Bradford: Big trades won't be easy for these Red Sox

Rob Bradford
November 27, 2017 - 10:28 pm

USA Today Sports

You can't really criticize Dave Dombrowski for the strategy.

Two years ago, he dealt prized prospect Manuel Margot, along with fellow minor-leaguers Logan Allen, Javier Guerra and Carlos Asuaje to the Padres for Craig Kimbrel. What they got was one of the game's best closers for three seasons. It was worth it.

And the same could obviously be said for the deal made involving Chris Sale, who cost the Red Sox their top overall prospect, Yoan Moncada, as well as the club's premier young pitcher, Michael Kopech. (Minor-leaguers Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz were also thrown in.) Again, hard to argue.

Drew Pomeranz for Anderson Espinoza has worked out, too.

So, here were are again, with another potential big deal at Dombrowski's doorstep thanks to Miami's willingness to dangle Giancarlo Stanton. Or perhaps you prefer the Red Sox make a run at Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu.

Good luck to Dave this time around.

The Red Sox simply are running out of top prospects to trade. That's not just hyperbole. That's a fact. Some phone calls to general managers around the majors confirm that.

Right now, the Red Sox have one player who would be put in the same class as Margot, Moncada, Kopech, and maybe even Allen -- Jason Groome. And it goes without saying that any team talking with the Sox are asking about the 19-year-old. But knowing there is going to be signficant funds allocated to keeping Sale or David Price, or both, the organization will be putting more of a premium on keeping controllable, top-of-the-rotaton pitchers. That is what Groome represents.

The Red Sox have other minor-league hurlers who have the potential to emerge into legitimate big leaguers, with last year's draft picks Tanner Houck and Alex Scherff representing such promise. But those guys, along with 18-year-old Bryan Mata, mean more to Dombrowski and Co. then they would in any trade. And that's the problem.

It's not as if the Red Sox don't have good minor-leaguers. It's just that, at this moment, the club's value on most of their guys exceeds how the rest of baseball views them.

The position player dilemma illustrates that conundrum to another level.

Here would be the top five hitters in the Red Sox system: Sam Travis, Michael Chavis, Josh Ockimey, Cole Brannen, C.J. Chatham and Bobby Dalbec.

The Red Sox brass look at that group with a healthy sense of optimism. Travis has proven to be major-league ready, while exhibiting the kind of overall approach any clubhouse would yearn for. Chavis emerged into one of the minor-leagues most prolific power hitters last season. At just 22 years old, Ockimey is another power option who held his own at Double-A. There was a reason Brannen was the Sox' second pick in last year's draft, possessing an exciting all-around game as an athletic outfielder. Chatham plays shortstop and can hit, a valued commodity for any organization. And Dalbec is a 6-foot-4, 22-year-old with a big bat who can offer the kind of pop a corner infielder is usually asked to deliver.

Sounds good, right?

Well, the reality is none of them represent anything close to a centerpiece in a significant trade.

Travis doesn't hit with enough power. Chavis has done it for just one season. Ockimey's upside still isn't defined. Brannen hasn't proven anything as a pro. Chatham's potential is perceived as good, but not great. And Dalbec swings and misses too much for many evaluators' liking.

The cupboard isn't bare, it's just that almost all of the caviar has already been given away. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, some of those fish eggs could really come in handy right about now.

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