The Boston Red Sox figure to be active leading up to this year’s Major League Baseball trade deadline, with pitching — both in the rotation and the bullpen — being the obvious priority based on what transpired in the first half of the season.
Tony La Russa, Red Sox vice president and special assistant to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, isn’t sure Boston will target players with expiring contracts, though, for the organization is trying to replenish its farm system and swinging a trade for a rental could prove detrimental to that cause.
“You’re asking my opinion, I’ll give it to you: I’ve been down for two years now in spring training, observing (prospects), we’re definitely stocking the minor leagues again with legitimate prospects, and we do have a process if you want to make a deal,” La Russa said Thursday on WEEI’s “Dale & Keefe,” as transcribed by WEEI.com. “But I know that there’s a very strong sentiment that this is a good time to rebuild and refresh our minor leagues so we can keep making deals in the future, and if you want to try and make a one-shot deal for a guy that’s a free agent or something and give up some prospects, that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for our club.”
Boston’s farm system has taken a hit in recent years for two main reasons: 1) Many of the Red Sox’s top prospects have graduated to the majors and contributed at the highest level, and 2) Boston has made several deals involving high-end minor leaguers.
It’s hard to argue with the results, as the Red Sox won 108 regular season games en route to a World Series title in 2018, more than justifying Boston’s aggressive approach to the trade market. But it’s obvious the club would like to retool down on the farm, if possible, and it already is making strides in that regard.
“I’m not the guy that makes the final call,” La Russa said. “But I think you’ve got to be very careful, now that you’re starting to rebuild the minor leagues, with making a deal that’s going to strip us again and the only benefit you get is the rest of the year.”
This doesn’t mean the Red Sox won’t consider trading for players set to become free agents after this season. As La Russa noted, he’s simply sharing his opinion based on how he views Boston’s quest to achieve sustainable success. Dombrowski ultimately is positioned to make the final call.
But La Russa’s comments are notable, especially since Zack Wheeler — a pitcher linked to the Red Sox in trade rumors this week — would be a rental, and the cost to acquire players on expiring deals tends to be less in terms of prospect capital.
The drawback to acquiring a rental, of course, is you run the risk of relinquishing a valuable asset for what amounts to two or three months of a particular player. That’s a bad look if you don’t subsequently win the World Series, but sometimes a team must take those chances to put it over the top come October.
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