Today, over on ESPN.com, David Schoenfield attempted to determine every team's most untouchable player, taking into consideration (for contenders) " prospects or young players who have been mentioned in rumors". For the Red Sox, the name he landed on was Yoan Moncada:
Even after trading Anderson Espinoza, the Red Sox have three of Keith Law's top seven midseason prospects in Andrew Benintendi (No. 3), Moncada (No. 5) and Rafael Devers (No. 7). Dave Dombrowski may already have made his big move in acquiring Drew Pomeranz, but if he wants to make another one, Moncada is the guy I keep, betting on his high ceiling over Benintendi's high floor. He's blocked by Dustin Pedroia, but could move to third base or left field.
Depending on what rumors you've seen, Moncada may be the right pick, I suppose, based on the players Schoenfield is considering. But as the likes of Chris Sale have entered the picture, and even looking back to Jose Fernandez in the offseason, the names that could be going the other way have gotten a little bit less about potential and a little bit more about star power.
Sure, you'll still find plenty of "Moncada, Benintendi, X, Y, and Z" ideas thrown around. But hit up Twitter, the various internet rumor mills, or indeed our own comments sections, and you'll find a few others. A rare Bogaerts, an occasional Betts, and an almost concerningly frequent Jackie Bradley Jr.
That right there? That's your big three. That's your true untouchable bunch in Boston.
It seems to often that we lose sight of the point of making trades, and why we have the buyer - seller dynamic that we do. Buyers buy because they want to win now, sellers sell because they know they can't. For a buying team to agree to ship a key part of their starting lineup, they have to be getting a substantially better player in return. For a buying team to agree to trade a deserving All-Star? That should almost never happen so long as that team has prospects to trade first.
Most seem to understand this and agree when it comes to Bogaerts and Betts, but Bradley really does need to be included in this bunch as well. He, Betts, and Bogaerts are all leading the Sox within the same 3.8-3.9 fWAR range, and that's despite the fact that Bradley is experiencing one of those strange small sample size UZR bubbles. There is a very real argument to be made that he is the best player in Boston. That the team would have leapt at the chance to get value off him before his 2015 surge doesn't change the fact that he's now produced at an extremely high level for the last half of his major league career.
Red Sox rotation struggles make trading for Chris Sale difficult
The Red Sox would love to add Chris Sale to their team, but find themselves in an unusual situation: the two struggling starters they would want to upgrade on are too valuable to give away for free, and very difficult to move for value.
And just think about what a trade involving Bradley or any of these players would do for the Red Sox. The argument tends to go that Andrew Benintendi can take over for the displaced outfielder. Well, the biggest name on the market right now is Chris Sale. Swap Sale for Bradley, and you've got Sale taking the place of Eduardo Rodriguez in the rotation--a big upgrade given how Rodriguez has pitched this year, and a somewhat more marginal one over the pitcher he was last year and the Sox hope he will be going forward. The price of that? Surrendering one of the best position players on the team to replace him with an unknown quantity, albeit one we have high hopes for.
This is not a move that pushes the Red Sox over the top. It is arguably not even one that actually pushes them forward. It is a trade of now for now, and the uncertainty of Rodriguez for the uncertainty of Benintendi. To say nothing of the fact that Sale's superstar reputation would very likely push the White Sox to ask for more than "just" Bradley.
When it comes to prospects? Sure, Moncada's the guy. A majority of you seem to feel that way. But the reality is that Boston's top commodities are all playing in the majors. If trade conversations for the likes of Drew Pomeranz might start with Moncada and end with Espinoza, the conversations for Chris Sale and his ilk are much more likely to start with one of the Three B's. And that's where that talk needs to end. Oh, the conversation can continue, but only so long as it's understood that if the Sox are in the market, it's to win in 2016. They'd like to win in 2017, 2018, and 2019 too. But those three are locked in for those years as well. There's just no reason to send them off while the Sox are both winning, and have prospects to deal.
Unless Mike Trout is involved. Then we'll talk.