The Boston Red Sox finally cut bait with general manager Ben Cherington early last week, and subsequently announced the hiring of Dave Dombrowski to the role of President of Baseball Operations. Since the move, many Red Sox writers have given you their thoughts on decisions that Dombrowski needs to make this offseason. This site is no exception, as members of the staff have done just that.
Don't worry, this is not another post breaking down individual moves the new Red Sox decision maker needs to make. Instead, I'd like to step back and look at two different ways the team can go in the longterm under Dave Dombrowski.
For those of you who are not particularly familiar with Dombrowski's past as a baseball executive, he is a guy that prefers proven Major League players over top prospects who have the potential to make an impact several years down the road. He is not afraid to package several top prospects in order to trade for an impact player.
For example, he sent outfielder Cameron Maybin, pitcher Andrew Miller, catcher Mike Rabelo and minor league pitchers Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop to the Florida Marlins in exchange for Miguel Cabrera back in 2007. Cabrera has since won two MVPs and a Triple Crown in Detroit, and has been a major factor in the recent success of the Tigers organization.
During Cherington's time overseeing the team, the Red Sox have consistently had one of the top farm systems in all of baseball. The team has seen many top prospects come through its system, but Cherington has refused to deal any of them. In some cases, like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, the right call was made. Those two players have become everyday, productive players for the Red Sox. In other cases, like that of Garin Cecchini, the team has held onto them too long and have seen their trade value significantly decrease over time.
Having a highly-ranked farm system has its advantages, and one of them is having the resources to trade for Major League talent. The old regime had a tendency to hold on to prospects past their peak in value. When a player's value is at its peak, the front office needs to evaluate their future and look at the depth of talent already at the position. If they then feel he offers more value as part of a trade, the team needs to pull the trigger on a deal rather than just burying them in the minors. Now, if the future value he presents is more valuable than a return in a trade, then by all means, keep him. Cherington constantly chose the second option, even when logic and reason said otherwise. That is a big part of why the team is where they are today.
The Red Sox currently have several very talented youngsters in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, and Eduardo Rodriguez, along with a lot of talent in the Minor Leagues. Dombrowski has a franchise-altering decision to make. Does he trade away a significant amount of the young talent the Red Sox organization has in order to bring in star players? Or does he build around some of Boston's young players and fill in the holes with other methods?
Whichever way he opts to go, he needs to decide before the offseason. Going by his past, it is more likely that he blows up the farm in order to put the Sox back into contention. It is a decision that could have implications on the franchise for several years to come, so it is vital that the right call is made. Let's just be glad that Dave Dombrowski will be the guy making the call, not Ben Cherington.
By Jacob Young, @Jacob_BBS