With all due respect to people who it would subsequently be time-consuming to apologize to, the notion that the Red Sox should trade Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts for pitching is literally–literally–dumb.
Were this a well researched article that I intended to feature prominently and show my parents some day, this is the part where I’d remind you of all the crazy-good stuff Bogaerts and Betts did last year, how they’re super young, super cheap, super handsome. Teams hug their prospects close at night in the hopes that one of the 5,432 players in their organization will blossom into a Bogaerts- or Betts-esque cost-controlled uber-talent. Bogaerts and Betts are pretty much the exact reasons prospect-hoarding exists.
So you know what you don’t do when you somehow stumble on both of these players at the same time? YOU DON’T TRADE EITHER OF THEM. FOR ANYTHING.
“Woah, hey now, you’d trade them for Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw or Bryc” yes I would, you hypothetical, pedantic ass. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the very good but utterly mortal pitchers who’ve been crammed down our throats on Twitter since Jon Lester turned off read receipts in his texting thread with Ben Cherington. I’m talking about Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels and every really, really talented pitcher who already belongs to a team or who belongs to no one and who I’d love to watch in a Red Sox uniform every five days.
I’m not giving up Betts or Bogaerts for any of them. It’s not even a hard choice for me.
That’s not because I believe in the argument that the Sox don’t need an ace. I don’t know if they do. They probably don’t “need” one in the literal sense of the term, but I know having one would sure be nice, no matter how great Joe Kelly’s stuff is.
That’s beside the point. The point is that the Red Sox have LOTS of ways of acquiring pitching help available to them this offseason.
I tweeted them earlier,
Buying pitching > trading prospects for pitching > trading Swihart/JBJ/Owens for pitching > death > trading Bogaerts/Betts for pitching
— Ben Carsley (@BenCarsley) November 12, 2015
and I can extrapolate below. To wit:
- OPTION 1: They can just go buy someone super good, exchange money and say “sign here” and oh shit, look, it’s David Price! Yeah, the Hanley and Pablo contracts are bad, but there’s still plenty of money to buy an ace and just be done with this conversation. Maybe it will stop the Red Sox from getting that free agent reliever they really want in 2018 or something but you know what, I’ll roll those dice.
- OPTION 2: Another option: trade the damn prospects. Every five seconds we hear about how amazing the Red Sox farm system is. That’s great! Let’s use the idea of good players to acquire actual good players right now. Let’s trade potential success in 2020 for a better chance at success tomorrow. This isn’t a good idea when your team is super old. It’s a fine idea when your team is young and on the edge of contention. Goodbye, two of Manny Margot and Rafael Devers and Anderson Espinoza. One of you will probably work out and that will suck, but if I can turn you into Sonny Gray, I can live with it.
- OPTION 3: Using money or the idea of a good player to get a good pitcher is smart. Trading away young, MLB-ready talent is less smart, but it’s still better than trading established MLB role-65 players with upside.
Jackie Bradley is probably going to be traded and that’s going to suck because he’s super fun to watch, even if he may never be more than a role-50 guy. But ok. As fun as JBJ is, he’s not in the same solar (Soler?) system as Betts or Bogaerts. You know who has good young catching? Like, three teams. But if you want to give up Swihart for an ace because it will let you save your prospect depth, I mean, whatever, fine. I won’t be happy, but it’s not franchise suicide. Wanna trade Owens, a probable No. 4 starter, for a more dependable No. 2/3. now? I get it. I don’t love this option specifically because the options above are very real, but ok.
- OPTION 4: Die. Like I said in the tweet, you could just cease to exist. This is probably a better route to take than watching your favorite team trade away the exact thing every team in baseball spends all of their time and energy into signing, drafting, developing or trading for. Just sign the DNR.
- EXCLUSIVE ONLINE BONUS OPTION: Do nothing. Maybe you really can’t get any good pitcher for anyone other than Bogaerts or Betts. Maybe Price and Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann all flat-out refuse to pitch in Boston. Maybe I’m just wrong and it’s Bogaerts or Betts or bust.
You can head into 2016 with Buchholz, Porcello, Rodriguez, Miley and Kelly/Owens, or maybe throw in like Mike Leake or something, and pray for the best. Would this be bad? Probably! But at some point, there will be a good pitcher that the Red Sox can acquire for something other than Bogaerts or Betts. Someone will take their money or some team will take their Bradley. And then they can add pitching to a team that has two stars in Betts and Bogaerts, two stars who cost 12 cents and could easily be combining for 10 WAR. You’d be adding pitching to a foundation that does not exist if you use the foundation to get the pitching.
So no. Trading, for example, Betts for Harvey is not a good idea for the Red Sox. Harvey is super good. He’s exactly what the Red Sox need in a lot of ways. But Harvey has three years left and is about to get expensive and is a pitcher with TJ on his resume. Betts has five years left and won’t be expensive for a while and is not a pitcher. These are things you already know and they’re easy to spell out and yet it’s not really what’s bothering me.
Bogaerts and Betts are pretty much the exact reasons prospect-hoarding exists.
What’s bothering me is that this probably won’t be the last time I feel the need to express this hot take this offseason. Because Dave Dombrowski has traded people before. And because the Red Sox really do need pitching. And because jesus christ every single team is going to want Betts or Bogaerts or both.
Teams suffer through Lars Andersons and Will Middlebrookses and Allen Websters because every once in a while, those guys turn into Betts or Bogaerts. The Red Sox have two guys who turned into Bogaerts or Betts at the same time. Keep them. Keep them forever.
There will always be more pitching. There will almost never be more Bogaerts or Betts. Regardless of who you prefer.
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