Monday was, of course, the trade deadline around baseball. The Red Sox were one of the few obvious sellers on the market for one of the most unclear deadlines in baseball history. As it turned out, they made two deals on the day itself — sending Kevin Pillar to Colorado and Josh Osich to Chicago — as well as two more deals leading up to it in which they sent Mitch Moreland to San Diego and Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia. Here are some scattered thoughts on all that went down, and some of the stuff that didn’t.
- Let’s start with the obvious. All things considered, I thought it was a very good deadline period for Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox front office. Obviously I’m not thrilled about the position in which they find themselves as sellers, but if we accept the fact that they are here, they did well. They didn’t trade anybody for whom I would have expected true system-changing prospects, but they got good depth for the guys they did deal. I’m not wild about Nick Pivetta, but the three prospects we know they got — Connor Seabold from the Phillies, Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario from the Padres — are all intriguing to me. That they got all these guys (plus a little more, which we’ll get to in a second) without giving up anyone who was really considered part of the core is very good. It wasn’t a lights out deadline in which Bloom ran circles around the league or anything, and I’m not ready to crown him a genius, but he did well for what they gave up.
- This is the part where I admit being wrong about something. I hate doing this! But, it needs to be done. In the run up to the deadline and really for about the whole season, I was talking about how I expected it to be a slow deadline and that it seemed like the worst year to be a seller. It certainly wasn’t a wild deadline and there was just one top 100 prospect dealt throughout the whole league, but it was certainly busier than I expected. So, mea culpa on that one.
- I mentioned above that the Red Sox got a little more than the three prospects (plus Pivetta). It’s just that they come in the form of players to be named later. In a way, this obviously makes it even tougher than usual to grade the trade deadline as everything they got back on Monday is intangible. We know they got two prospects plus international slot money that probably will lead to another prospect, but we don’t have names. For what it’s worth, the players to be named later are already agreed upon by the two sides. It’s just that the rules this year prohibit teams from trading players who are not on their 60-man player pool, so the workaround is to call them players to be named later and officially announce the moves after the season. Teams officially have six months to name a player, but it should be announced pretty much right after the 60-man player pool rule is lifted. I assume that’s right after the World Series.
- There was a lot of concern from Red Sox fans that they didn’t trade for pitching, specifically in the Mitch Moreland trade. That is certainly understandable given the state of the pitching staff right now along with the organization’s history in developing it. That said, I wouldn’t worry. For one thing, they did get a pair of pitchers in the Phillies deal. Secondly, we have no idea whether or not the players from the Rockies and Cubs are pitchers. Thirdly, Potts and Rosario are both good and fill holes in the upper levels of the organization.
- There were a few players whose names were thrown around in rumors for the last week or two that stuck around, one of which being Christian Vázquez. Ultimately, I am glad they kept him, though the package Seattle got for Austin Nola (plus more) piqued my interest on a potential Vázquez return. That said, catchers are really hard to find and the Red Sox got one of them. I am of the belief that the Phillies will eventually sign J.T. Realmuto to an extension, and without him on the market there is no palatable replacement for Vázquez behind the plate. I understood shopping him, but I will now breathe a sigh of relief that he is still here.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.’s name never even really showed up in trade rumors, which was surprising. As a free agent at the end of the year, I think most of us expected him to be shopped. I don’t think he ended up being shopped as much as we thought, though. I certainly don’t think they hung up when they heard his name, but I think their focus was much more on trading Pillar and I would go so far as to say I wouldn’t be surprised if Bradley is back next year on a pillow contract.
- The player I was most surprised sticking around was Matt Barnes. If he had been pitching well this year, I don’t think there’s any chance he stayed here. My assumption, though, is that teams were giving packages that reflected his 2020 performance too much for the Red Sox liking. It’s not the worst thing in the world. He could be dealt in the offseason, but I think the plan will be to keep him into next season and either have him in the late innings for a contender or trade him at next year’s deadline if they are sellers again. It’s true that he’ll have less control, but the return wouldn’t be too much worse given the extra value relievers always carry at the deadline.
- One of the ripple effects of the trade deadline is always opening up roster spots, potentially for prospects. In this case, the prospects people most wanted to see were Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck. With Duran, it’s just not realistic and I don’t expect we’ll see him at all this year. I don’t think it’s really too much about service time, either. Instead, it’s not being ready — he has a half-season above High-A and struggled for half of that half-season. The Alternate Site isn’t nothing, but it’s also not a total replacement for minor-league development — along with roster spots — the Red Sox have a lot of 40-man decisions to make this year, and Duran would take up one of those spots — and burning options. With Houck, he’s simply not ready and there’s no reason to call him up and have him get shelled by lefties. I suspect we’ll see him before the year is out, but not Duran.
- It’s not just the active roster that had to be filled. These trades left a couple of holes on the 60-man player pool that can be filled by prospects going to Pawtucket. I have no inside info on who might fill those spots, but I hope one is Thad Ward. He was one of the most important prospects in the system before the minor-league system was canceled, and getting in-person training even for a month could be big. There are a few other possibilities for the other open spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s first round pick Nick Yorke, again just to get some in-person training.