Welcome to our new Red Sox contributor Richard Banks…
Prospects in the game of baseball have never been valued higher, and for good reason – nearly every World Series winner over the last decade has had a top rated farm system in the preceding few years, to not only draw from for the major league roster, but to also include in trades for other players.
The problem that Chaim Bloom had when he stepped through the door of the Red Sox front office? The system was in the mud. Outside of under-rated first baseman Tristan Casas, the cupboard was bare. Former Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski had stripped a stacked farm to achieve his goal of producing a winner. A World Series won by primarily homegrown talent, with free agent additions and trade acquisitions augmenting the roster.
This 2018 Red Sox blueprint is nothing new to MLB teams, there’s a very good reason teams tank for multiple years to get as many high draft picks and prospects via trading veterans as possible – because it’s widely known that bringing through a core of cost controlled players is the best and most cost effective way to win. Only once you have that core do you look at adding from outside the organisation.
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So that brings us back to the Red Sox now, and what Chaim Bloom has managed to accomplish which, once analysed is actually more impressive than it seems on the surface. I’m not going to get into specifics here (I’ll save that for the preseason top 30 prospect rankings) but the farm system has taken huge strides forward – the additions of SS Marcelo Mayer and 2B Nick Yorke with the 4th and 17th picks of the 2021 and 2020 drafts respectively have so far looked inspired. The trade acquisitions of SP Connor Seabold, C Ronaldo Hernández, SS/2B Jeter Downs and the recently acquired 3B Alex Binelas have added much needed depth to certain areas and that’s not to mention potential star international signee Miguel Bleis.
There is undoubtedly consequences of this minor league system transformation over the last 2 years and those have come in the form of fan favourite players being traded away and free agents with QO’s attached being avoided. But the fact the team returned to the post season this year is testament to how well and how quickly this vision of Bloom’s is taking shape, as well as his ability to patch holes created with low cost 1 or 2 year contracts so as not to disrupt his future ambitions. Nothing it seems is off the table, shown in the fact that Bloom is willing to use the financial might of FSG to take bad or unwanted contracts off other teams hands, just so they can ask to throw in a few prospects to sweeten the pot – a la Adam Ottavino and Jackie Bradley Jr.– a not oft used but very effective way of adding prospects for little more than money.
There is still work to be done of course – and trades to follow after the current lock out, but the sheer fact that after two seasons it’s become abundantly clear that the front office has prioritised adding prospect depth even if it’s at a detriment (in some fans eyes) to the major league team can only be a good thing for the long term future of the historic franchise.
Rebuilding a farm system is incredibly difficult, you have to draft well, identify under appreciated talent in other organisations, take risks and have an element of luck, it’s no wonder most teams don’t even try to win at the big league level whilst taking on that task. Bloom in my opinion has turned this thing from bottom 5 into a top 10 farm system across all of baseball in 2 seasons, whilst maintaining a competitive MLB roster and working within a financial framework for sustainable success. Perhaps it’s time Red Sox fans took a moment to see how complex the nature of this rebuild has been, and then to take another to appreciate how well it’s being done.