Sox Week: Due diligence not enough for Dombrowski to trade more prospects

  • FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski looks on during practice in Cleveland. The big-spending Boston Red Sox could be far more conservative this offseason because of baseball’s new luxury tax rules. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, that the new collective bargaining agreement’s stricter penalties for spending above a certain payroll threshold could factor in to the team’s plans. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) Paul Sancya

  • David Ortiz smiles after his game-winning, three-run home run against the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning of a game at Fenway Park in Boston on June 6, 2013. AP

  • FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski looks on during practice in Cleveland. The big-spending Boston Red Sox could be far more conservative this offseason because of baseball’s new luxury tax rules. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, that the new collective bargaining agreement’s stricter penalties for spending above a certain payroll threshold could factor in to the team’s plans. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) Paul Sancya

  • Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez makes a throwing error, allowing Oakland Athletics' Trevor Plouffe to score a run, during the second inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, May 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Jeff Chiu

Published: 5/21/2017 12:56:52 AM

Dave Dombrowski has wheeled-and-dealed himself right into a roster conundrum.

The Boston Red Sox boss has never met a prospect he wouldn’t trade away. He displayed that fearless ambition this past offseason in dealing away baseball’s No. 1 prospect, Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, and three other pretty good ones for ace Chris Sale.

Now, a report this week from Chicago baseball writer Bruce Levine says the Red Sox have had scouts watching White Sox starter Jose Quintana, along with “other White Sox players,” who Levine presumed to be slugging third baseman Todd Frazier.

If Dombrowski were to pull the trigger on another major trade to add starting pitching depth or shore up the third base spot, the Red Sox farm system is surely going to take another big hit. Many assumed Moncada was untouchable, even after he struck out in 10-straight MLB at-bats last season. Dombrowski quickly reminded Red Sox Nation that no impressive young prospect is safe in his system by including Moncada in the Sale trade.

If Moncada was tradeable, you can almost guarantee that promising talent like Rafael Devers, Jason Groome, Sam Travis and Bobby Dalbec are available, too. Especially if another durable ace like Quintana is being dangled like a piece of meat in front of the Red Sox president.

The problem with Dombrowski’s tactics is that he’s already cleaned out a top-five farm system and turned it into a middle-of-the-pack one. Sending Boston’s top scouts to Chicago to evaluate anyone proves that Dombrowski is not afraid to downgrade the farm to a bottom-tier system.

Organizational depth is an issue that takes years to fix. And truth be told, it’s highly unlikely Dombrowski would even be a part of that rebuild if Boston continues to be a mediocre team under his command.

The big-league club has gotten a pretty good taste of what the minor leagues have to offer as far as starting pitching goes. As Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe noted this week, Triple-A call-ups have started four games for Boston, going 18.1 innings while allowing 22 runs on 34 hits.

Groome, Boston’s first-round draft pick last year, is probably the one starting pitching prospect with any real trade value left, but he’s also expected to have the highest ceiling of anyone in Boston’s lower levels. If Dombrowski deals Groome, the only way to fully replenish the organization will be by selling off its major-league parts. And if that’s happening, you’ll know things aren’t going well.

It would be irresponsible for Dombrowski to pull the trigger on a deal before David Price’s return to Boston. Not to mention that having a rotation with Sale, Price, Quintana, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez will not mean much if the Red Sox continue to struggle offensively and in the field.

There’s a lot of time between now and July’s trade deadline. A lot of time to scout and process and weigh all of the options. I’m sure if Dombrowski makes a move, he’ll have the best interest of this year’s team in mind.

But the game has changed in how much teams rely on the minor-league club and organizational depth to obtain eventual next-level success. Building for the future is just as important as building for the present.

Maybe someone should remind Dombrowski of that before it’s too late.

Portland in town

Speaking of the minor leagues, the Portland Sea Dogs will be in Manchester for a four-game series next week with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, giving Red Sox fans a chance to get a good look at Boston’s Double-A prospects.

Devers will be the big draw, much like Andrew Benintendi and Moncada were before being called up in August last season, and for good reason.

SoxPropsects.com describes the 6-foot, 215-pound third baseman as “one of the most exciting young players in the system in years.” He’s certainly proved that this season. Entering the weekend, Devers was hitting .325 with seven home runs, 22 RBI, 23 runs and nine doubles.

Fans looking to get a good look at the 20-year-old Dominican Republic native probably won’t have many more chances in the Double-A setting. Portland is set to return to the Granite State for seven more games this season, but not until mid-July and Devers could be playing in Triple-A or even Boston by then. If he’s not, there’s a good chance he’ll play in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 12, which will also be held at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

The Sea Dogs do have more to offer than just Devers, though. Starting pitcher Jalen Beeks has been stifling this season, piling up a 5-1 record over seven starts with a 1.60 ERA, 48 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP. His ERA is second-best among starters in the Eastern League and he’s allowed zero runs in five of his seven starts this year.

Beeks, who was college teammates with Benintendi at Arkansas, pitched Thursday night, so he’ll likely start Tuesday or Wednesday against the Fisher Cats.

Recent Single-A call-up Travis Lakins will likely get a start in Manchester as well. Although he lasted just 1 ⅔ innings and gave up five runs in his Portland debut, Lakins posted a 5-0 record and 2.61 ERA with the Salem Red Sox in seven starts before being called up.

Must-read

David Ortiz was one of the most outspoken players to ever suit up for the Red Sox, so it’s safe to say his new book – Papi: My Story – will be a must-read.

It sounds like Ortiz opened up about his time with the Minnesota Twins, his feelings on ex-Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine, injuries throughout his career, the Boston Marathon bombing and everything in between.

Michael Holley, a trusted scribe and WEEI radio host, was the co-author of Big Papi’s book, which should make the story even more compelling. Holley has helped pen other books about New England greats, such as Patriot Reign, Brady and Belichick and War Room, all of which talk about the recent and historic success for the New England Patriots.

Papi: My Story hit bookstores last week and the retired slugger did a mini book tour through New York City and the Boston area to promote it.

Sixteen bucks sounds like a pretty good deal simply to hear what Ortiz truly thought of Manny Ramirez and the Chicken & Beer years alone.

In other words, take my money, Holley.

(Michelle Berthiaume can be reached at 369-3338, mberthiaume@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @M onitorMichelle.)




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