Once the Adrian Gonzalez deal is finalized, the Red Sox will bid adieu to three of their top prospects. Casey Kelly, a right-hander considered the best the farm system has to offer, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes will head to San Diego.
The Red Sox are hopeful that their potentially impressive haul of draft picks next June will compensate for the loss of the trio. Additionally, by sparing three other young players rumored to be in the mix all along, Boston has saved itself in three critical areas.
These two scenarios could turn the deal into one that has very little impact on the organization going forward, with the obvious exception that it now has one of the best first baseman in the game coming to Fenway Park in his prime.
Fireballer Daniel Bard, outfielder Ryan Kalish and shortstop Jose Iglesias, all reported to be targeted by Padres general manager Jed Hoyer at one time or another, were each kept in the fold, no small matter given that the spots they represent are in areas of need for the current club: the bullpen, the outfield and shortstop.
Here is a look at the three players whose continued presence will ensure that the Red Sox do not suffer a falloff in certain areas, followed by what the club is losing in the deal.
The bullpen would have to be rebuilt if Bard left. Not only is he the likely heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon, but Bard remains the key component to the pen in his current setup role. With the way those around him struggled in 2010, it is not unrealistic to imagine the Red Sox being a .500 team, or thereabouts, without Bard. If he was ever close to being traded, score one for Theo Epstein for pulling him back. There is more than enough on the free-agent market to finish remaking the pen around Bard and Papelbon, and potentially having a pretty good unit out there.
The Red Sox’ other area of uncertainty remains the outfield. That can change dramatically with the signing of Jayson Werth, for which the team appears to be the front-runner, or Carl Crawford (much more doubtful due to the sudden glut of left-handed bats). But in the event that a signing never materializes, Kalish may not be a bad option in left field, at least to start the season. Even if he begins the year at Triple-A, he is an excellent candidate to take over after right fielder J.D. Drew departs following the 2011 season. Kalish has the speed to roam a spacious right field at Fenway Park, with a cannon of an arm to boot. Keeping him in the mix is huge.
Shortstop has been a revolving door in Boston for years. That much is known. Marco Scutaro, or Jed Lowrie, figure to keep the seat warm for the young Iglesias. The Cuban defector is on target to reach the majors by 2012, provided his progression is without roadblocks and injury. This is the one infield position that will need to be addressed in the not-too-distant future, and Iglesias figures to be the answer.
Given all that, the Padres scored themselves some pretty good players. Here is a quick look at what goes west.
One wonders if he had gone to Double-A Portland this year and been lights out if the Red Sox would’ve been willing to part with him. But Kelly had some struggles before seeing his season cut short by a strained lat muscle. Despite a 3-5 record and a 5.31 ERA, the organization still liked his progress, but it was clear that Kelly could remain a couple of years away. San Diego now will take on the mission of making him into a frontline starter.
Rizzo’s progress in 2010 altered the landscape of the Red Sox’ farm system, at least when it came time to make a trade. Had he stumbled a bit, it might’ve been harder to make the Gonzalez deal, in the sense that San Diego would want a promising first baseman in return. Two years ago, that guy would have been Lars Andersen, but he was surpassed on most lists by Rizzo, who at the age of 20 (now 21) mashed Double-A pitching this year. The development of Rizzo’s power (25 homers in 2010) and his quality glove makes him a candidate to replace Gonzalez at first for the Padres within a year or so, and likely made the deal possible.
A speed demon and the cousin of New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, Fuentes is just 19 and remains in need of some refinement. He stole 42 bases and was caught only five times for Single-A Greenville, while posting a .270 average. A Jacoby Ellsbury-type with electrifying speed, Fuentes remains a few years away.