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Despite trades, Red Sox still boast a top farm system

The Sox have given up quite a few good prospects over the last year. And yet, somehow, they're still near the top.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Dombrowski came to Boston with a reputation for trading prospects for talent, and he's certainly done that. Over the last year, the Red Sox have lost Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, Luis Alejandro Basabe, Aaron Wilkerson, Javier Guerra, and a few others for (primarily) Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Aaron Hill, and Brad Ziegler.

Even with the loss of a top-20 (Espinoza), top-50 (Margot), and a handful of other solid prospects, though, the Red Sox still have one of the game's best farm systems. Hell, Keith Law just ranked them third behind the Braves and, yes, the team who has benefited the most from these trades, the Padres.

Law, for his part, does some hand wringing about the situation, suggesting the Sox may not be on the list long given the rate at which Dombrowski has been trading players away. But I think that's a bit unfair thus far. Yes, he's traded a top-tier prospect and another one that's jumped into similar territory in the eyes of many evaluators. But it's hard to claim that he's trading at all outside his means given that they're still sitting in the top three.

It's especially hard to claim that when you consider the way Boston's roster is currently constructed. All eight of their current starting position players are under team control for at least the next two years. The same is true of every single starting pitcher. Yes, some of those positions could be improved on. Yes, they're going to need a "replacement" for David Ortiz. But those improvements are likewise not hard to find from within. If you want a starting left fielder that's not a platoon guy, Andrew Benintendi could well win the job in spring training next year. If you want a catcher who can actually occasionally pick up a  hit and aren't willing to buy into Sandy Leon devil magic just yet, there's Blake Swihart. David Ortiz' replacement could well come at third in the form of Yoan Moncada, with Shaw and Ramirez shifting about to accommodate him.

In a few years' time, the Red Sox might be lamenting the loss of Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot, or even Luis Alejandro Basabe. But by then they will have had more drafts and another shot to spend big on the international market. And there's no question that right now--exactly tonight, in fact--they'd be lamenting the absence of a Drew Pomeranz and a Brad Ziegler.

The Sox have significantly improved their 2016 team at the expense of the farm system, but that farm system is still going strong. It still has big-time answers for all their short-term holes, and a few other high-quality players and interesting low-level lottery tickets scattered throughout for good measure. It's true that by this time next year the Red Sox may well find themselves a below average system, but if they do, it will very likely be the result not of trading away the future, but of the likes of Moncada and Benintendi graduating as so many others have in the last couple years before them.