clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dave Dombrowski won't blow up the farm system (because he can't)

Dave Dombrowski might trade some of Boston's crazy prospect depth away. But their needs are not great enough to even give him the chance to truly blow the system up, even if he wanted to.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox have a good bit of work to do this offseason, and not all of it is going to come in free agency. With a fair number of holes to fill, a robust-but-unchanging payroll, and a glut of prospects, the stage seems set for one of the more interesting hot stove seasons in recent memory.

So when a rival executive comes out predicting trades for the Red Sox, it shouldn't exactly come as a surprise:

There's a big difference, of course, between the Red Sox "making some moves" and "blowing up their farm system." And here is where reputation comes into play. Dave Dombrowski, after all, is not known for hoarding prospects, and he's suddenly been put in charge of a team that has one of the deepest systems he's ever had access to and at least one very big hole at the top of the rotation. It's a recipe for...well, not necessarily disaster. Dombrowski has gotten some very good players back from his trades, after all. But at the very least it seems like the stage is set for the Red Sox to give up a bunch of players their fans would very much like to keep.

Good luck with that.

Don't get me wrong, I fully expect Red Sox fans to be bidding a fond farewell to at least one impact prospect over the next few months. Maybe it will be Rafael Devers, or Yoan Moncada, or Andrew Benintendi, or Anderson Espinoza. But how, exactly, does anyone expect Dombrowski to truly "blow up" this farm system?

Consider this: we are at a point where prospects are valued more highly than ever before. When it costs a draft pick to sign a free agent, teams hem and haw over all but the biggest stars. A player like Cole Hamels fetches a handful of top-100 prospects, but none that had even breached the top-25 in any publication.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, need an ace, maybe another starter if they can find a place to put him, a few bullpen arms, and some insurance for the Sandoval/Ramirez situation. They could look into upgrading at one or two positions, trading uncertainty for more established talent, but so far there's been no sign they're looking to go beyond their clear needs for 2016 into more exploratory territory.

The fact is the Red Sox' needs are simply not great enough to give Dombrowski an opportunity to really "blow up" the farm system even if he were so inclined. Sure, he could ship Yoan Moncada off to Milwaukee tomorrow in exchange for cash considerations and a sixth-inning reliever, but he won't. Dombrowski isn't known for being gun-shy with his prospects, but he's also not known for being stupid with them.

Given that, and given that the Red Sox have about $20 million to work with if we take Dombrowski's word that they won't be decreasing the payroll, there's just not a whole lot of room for the Sox to empty their system. Spend that $20 million (plus a bit extra, I suppose) on an ace, and the top-5 might not even be in jeopardy. Spend it on the bullpen, and we'll probably see one, maybe two of their better names heading the other way when they go out and get their ace.

The Red Sox can take that hit, though. They can take it pretty easily, in fact. This is a team that just graduated Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Eduardo Rodriguez in the last couple of years. This is a team that, even if you were to excise Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers from the system entirely, would still feature the best players of the NYPL and GCL, two solid rotation candidates in Triple-A, and a strong complement of mid-level guys.

So no, maybe you shouldn't get too attached to any given player. If Dombrowski's reputation means anything, it's that no man is completely safe. But if you're fretting that the offseason will bring with it the end of this well-cultivated farm system, you're wasting your time and energy. The Red Sox weren't so bad last year that they need to trade the future to field a whole new team. Unless Dombrowski is looking to go way outside the box (in a way he's not exactly known for), we can expect the farm system to remain largely intact. These days, even an ace can only cost so much in talent.