Bradford: Exposing some lazy trade deadline tirades

Rob Bradford
July 25, 2018 - 11:32 pm

USA Today Sports

BALTIMORE — Let me make this clear: the Red Sox farm system is thin, thin, and thin. 

Don’t even try and compare it to the Yankees. It will be embarrassing.

But let’s stop the dumbest of dumb narratives that suggest because of this reality the Red Sox can’t do trade deadline deals. It’s a lazy take. And Wednesday should have exposed those who chose to go down that road.

The Red Sox acquired one of the more coveted starting pitchers on the non-waiver trade deadline market for Jalen Beeks. Jalen Beeks. Who knew the Red Sox had such a talent? How did this possibly happen considering the diluted Sox minor league teams were forced to play with five position players. (Weren't they?)

It happened because Beeks represented what it takes to do these sort of deals. He was imperfect, but not without some hope. This should be the Red Sox’ farm system’s bumper sticker.

You don’t need Top 50 prospects to get the kind of useful rental players we’re talking about. Go after a guy with years left on his deal — like Cleveland did with Brad Hand — be ready to pay the price. But rentals? That should actually be the Red Sox’ sweet spot, and it seemingly was when it came to the Nathan Eovaldi deal.

Here is a list of minor-leaguers Dave Dombrowski have traded for free agents-to-be heading into the trade deadline: Aaron Wilkerson, Luis Alejandro Basabe, Jose Almonte, Shaun Anderson, Gregory Santos, Stephen Nogosek, Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, Santiago Espinal, Beeks.

Sorry to bring back all those bad memories.

In five years you know how many of those guys might be on a single fantasy baseball roster? Maybe Anderson.

Dave Dombrowski said Wednesday he was confident that the Red Sox could have reeled in Zach Britton if need be. He's probably right. Sure Dillon Tate -- the centerpiece of the Yankees deal -- would have probably been a Top 5 prospect in the Red Sox' system. But the point is that the Sox do have guys who have as much value as the Double-A pitcher, along with the other two he was traded with.

The difference is that if the Red Sox choose to go down that road, it hurts a bit more because there aren't enough logical successors to fill out the Top 5 or so. 

Michael Chavis. Bryan Mata. Tanner Houck, Jay Groome. Mike Shawaryn. Bobby Dalbec. Darwinzon Hernandez. Danny Diaz. They could all probably helped get a Britton deal done. But you don't trade those type of guys for rentals unless you are truly desperate. The Red Sox shouldn't be desperate, especially if they can live in a world where a player like Beeks gets the job done.

Where some might get bogged down is when it comes to what kind of trades we're talking about. 

When it comes to rentals the Red Sox shouldn't have a problem. There are outliers, such as when Baltimore paid Eduardo Rodriguez for Andrew Miller, or the time Gleyber Torres went to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal. Manny Machado. Those are few and far between, as has been evidenced in this year's Kelvin Herrera and Britton transactions.

Do you want a guy who has years left on his deal after this one? That's where the Red Sox' plight would come into play. Two years ago they got Drew Pomeranz, an All-Star pitcher with 2 1/2 years left on his deal. It cost them one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Anderson Espinoza. That's how that works.

The Indians had to give up their No. 1 prospect (No. 16 overall per MLB Pipeline) Francisco Mejia to lock up two good relievers with multiple years of control left on their deals. That is the Pomeranz scenario. The Red Sox don't necessarily need the Pomeranz scenario this time around.

If the Red Sox wanted to use whatever assets they have to go after someone like San Diego reliever Kirby Yates or Raisel Iglesias to cover themselves now and for the post-Craig Kimbrel era, so be it. That's where the Red Sox' farm system's lot in life could add to some discomfort. Not that they couldn't do the deals, but because it would leave them with even less of what they are yearning for -- high-end minor league talent, even at the lowest of levels.

So for those wanting to rant about a possible predicament, that should be your focus. Have at it.

But if you're worried about the Red Sox not being able to get another guy to help this team, remember what happened Wednesday morning. Or don't and continue those misguided tirades. Your choice.

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