Tony La Russa on D&K: Deadline deal for rental 'probably doesn't make a lot of sense for our club'

Amin Touri
July 11, 2019 - 2:55 pm

Making an appearance on Dale & Keefe on WEEI on Thursday, Tony La Russa, special assistant to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, discussed the team’s pitching needs and the state of the farm system ahead of the MLB trade deadline with guest hosts Marc James and Andy Hart.

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La Russa, a three-time World Series champion as a manager with the Athletics and Cardinals, addressed the organization’s current lack of prospect depth, suggesting that a big trade for a rental at the deadline might not make sense for the club.

“You're asking my opinion, I'll give it to you: I've been down for two years now in spring training, observing (prospects), we're definitely stocking the minor leagues again with legitimate prospects, and we do have a process if you want to make a deal,” La Russa said. “But I know that there's a very strong sentiment that this is a good time to rebuild and refresh our minor leagues so we can keep making deals in the future, and if you want to try and make a one-shot deal for a guy that's a free agent or something and give up some prospects, that probably doesn't make a lot of sense for our club.”

There have been plenty of rumors floating around, from Boston making a move for a guy like Zack Wheeler to bolster the rotation or a deal to patch up a struggling bullpen — though, one that should be helped by the addition of Nathan Eovaldi — but La Russa is hesitant.

“I'm not the guy that makes the final call,” he said. "But, I think you've got to be very careful, now that you're starting to rebuild the minor leagues, with making a deal that's going to strip us again and the only benefit you get is the rest of the year."

Dombrowski has developed a bit of a reputation for rinsing the farm system for big deals, his most notable move in Boston coming at the 2016 Winter Meetings when he dealt four prospects, most notably Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, to the White Sox for Chris Sale. La Russa did point out, however, that that move served an ultimate goal, while the team still has plenty of homegrown talent out on the field.

"I think what's happening was, as you know we've made some prospect deals the last three or four years, and that's what provided three straight playoff appearances plus a World Series,” said La Russa. “The other thing too, which I think is kind of unfair when the experts look at it, if you look at our ballclub that's on the field, whether it's at shortstop, third baseman, the outfielders, those are all products of the minor leagues, and they're all young guys in their 20s. We have made some deals, there have been some prospects traded, but the results have been that we've got a very complete roster.”

The pitching deficiencies however, both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation, have been well-documented, and according to La Russa, their struggles have only compounded each other.

"I think that the decision, I think it was a smart decision, was that you put a lot of resources behind our starting rotation, not just for this year but for several years forward,” La Russa said. “Now, the point of the starting rotation, and this is something that I think will be true in the second half of the season, is for the starter to go into the last third of the game, get through six (innings) and into the seventh. And the point I'm making is that we haven't done that the first half of the year, for whatever reason, we've had a couple of setbacks here and there, and we're mostly getting like five innings, which has really stressed the bullpen.

“If — not if, when we get our starters to get deeper, then you'll see that guys are out there, when they've been fresh and not worn out, they're capable of finishing the game, and a lot of us are very excited that Nathan Eovaldi is going to be a part of that."