So Monday night, Bob Dutton writes this column. In it, he suggests the idea that Jon Lester and James Shields could be had for Royals super prospect Wil Myers. Then he neatly tucks a tidy, totally non-committal ‘this has been discussed’ paragraph into the middle of the story and wham-o. Fire lit.
And now here I am, commenting on something that could have been little more than a casual phone call about two players between two teams – one of millions that are had over the course of an average baseball offseason. I offer little more than another log to toss onto what I’m sure is already a dying fire, but hey – when in Rome, right?
But in all seriousness – the general overreaction to all of this was amusing and indicative of a continuing trend amongst Red Sox fans to hyper-react to everything without even considering it’s plausibility. It’s not that we weren’t always a paranoid bunch, but today’s Red Sox nation is borderline schizophrenic.
So here I am, with my tranquillizer gun, to sedate you people and make you take notice of the world around you as well as the one directly in front of you. We’ll take a look at this tasty morsel and pet it, long for it and eventually do what we as a species do better than any other – judge the crap out of it.
I really hope I’m the only one who doesn’t think this makes sense from the Royals perspective.
So let me just put this out there right now: If Myers really IS the trade bait, couldn’t the Royals do a lot freaking better than Lester OR Shields?
I mean sure… I get it. The Royals need pitching. Badly. While Lester makes sense and Shields would fit, I have a really hard time conceptualizing that those are the two the Royals would target when they have a chip as significant as Myers. Couldn’t they get something cheaper? Couldn’t they get something better? Then again – is there really anything better than the top-hitting prospect in all of baseball?
That’s not even breaking into the timing of this whole thing – which on it’s face just seems odd– almost exactly one week until the winter meetings. Part of me thinks this is the Royals posturing to stimulate interest in Myers for something bigger. If teams prick their ears up when they hear Lester and Shields mentioned, they might think they, too, can reap such rewards. “They” might be teams with a significant need who might be willing to go considerably further to get him than either the Rays or Sox.
Then off course, this IS Dayton Moore and we know how nutty he can be. He’s got very little to show for his drafts and the Royals continue to be one of the worst organizations in baseball. While I have my doubts, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for him to sacrifice the long-term health of the organization for his short-term job security. I’m not riding that train mind you, but it’s not without precedent and not altogether unthinkable.
And what about free agency? Yes, I said that. Free agency is a viable option (and should be) for the Royals this year.
In fact, I think one of the more interesting market developments we’ll see this offseason is heavy involvement from teams we aren’t used to seeing as big spenders. With regional revenues exploding, smaller market teams may find themselves priced out of free agency altogether in the next few years. Getting in now, while not ideal, can protect them for a period of time and allow them to take added revenues and pump them heavily into their player development systems in hopes of sustaining long-term competitiveness. Standing idly by is simply not an option. They’ll have to invest now and play the cards dealt or risk spiraling into long-term irrelevancy in the next 2-3 years.
The Royals would certainly be one of those ball clubs. While trading prospects is palatable for a team with the deep farm system they have, it’s not ideal. Spending some money up front and keeping their prospects might be the smarter choice and the better investment over the long haul.
So while it’s true that the Royals will be more ambitious than in years past, I wouldn’t expect them to settle. Maximizing their return on investment will go from being the most important thing to the ABSOLUTE most important thing. From their perspective I’m sure they think they can do better than Lester, even if they’d like to have him.
It makes so much sense from the Red Sox perspective, that if it was proposed, it’d be done already.
If the Royals had offered up their top prospect for Lester, Lester would be in moving van somewhere in Southern Illinois as we speak. Without question, this trade would have been too good to pass up for the Red Sox.
Yet somehow still, there are some doubters.
Some opponents have suggested that the Red Sox would be left with a huge pitching void, but simply put – that’s just complete nonsense. The answer for the Red Sox would be simple: they’d have to spend money. And you know what? It’d be OK if they did.
The one thing people seem to be leaving out of the equation when talking about the Red Sox future is that heading forward, nearly all their major issues will be addressed by players coming through their farm system. By the end of next year, it’s not altogether impossible to imagine a scenario where Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, Ryan Lavarnway and one of Rubby De La Rosa or Allen Webster are on the active roster. Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz will also be on the way. Felix Doubront is here and Clay Buchholz is locked up. Essentially – the Red Sox could field all but two positions with cost-controlled young talent. Even if only half of these guys turn into Major Leaguers, the need to spend on the Red Sox behalf is next to nothing. That’s not even getting into the fact that John Lackey, Jon Lester and David Ortiz will also be off the books after 2014.
In sum – there aren’t going to be pressing financial needs heading forward. Considering the steep increase in revenues throughout baseball the past few years, the cost of baseball contracts has exploded and will continue to do so. $100 million is the new $50 million and even if the Red Sox net some contracts that look bad on their own – in the next 2-3 years they may be seen as bargains. Even if their signings flop, the flexibility to make changes exists.
So if the Red Sox need to spend some bigger bucks on Starting Pitching this offseason, then so be it. The ability to add the top-hitting prospect in baseball is much more enticing, especially if you know you can stabilize your team over the long haul. Given the fact that he could contribute this season makes it all the more appealing.
If the Red Sox did turn this trade down, there’d be no way to describe their decision making as anything other than idiotic. Adding a cost-controlled 30+ HR per year player for the next six-year in exchange for 2 years and $24 million+ of a #2 starting pitcher is a deal any sane human would do. It’s virtually impossible to not imagine it actually happening.
Could it happen?
Sure it could, but don’t expect it to come to fruition within the framework of a one for one swap. The Red Sox or Rays will have to give something else up – especially considering the general inconsistency of both pitchers involved. My guess is that the trade would likely involve multiple pieces – for example, the Red Sox giving up Lester and perhaps Brentz with the Royals giving up Myers and a good reliever – to get it done.
If it does come up again though, the Red Sox should go full throttle and finish it. They’ll have the money and resources to be competitive enough in the short term, and also net a talent that could be the centerpiece of perhaps the most ferociously talented Red Sox team we’ve ever seen.
Categories: Allen Webster Bryce Brentz Clay Buchholz David Ortiz Felix Doubront Jackie Bradley Jr. James Shields John Lackey Jon Lester Matt Barnes Rubby de la Rosa Ryan Lavarnway Wil Myers Will Middlebrooks Xander Bogaerts