Friday evening, Dave Dombrowski did what Dave Dombrowski does best: he emptied out a portion of his farm system for a star en route to a stars-and-scrubs type roster. In his first move on the trade market, DD acquired flamethrowing closer Craig Kimbrel for outfielder Manuel Margot, shortstop Javier Guerra, infielder Carlos Asuaje and southpaw Logan Allen.
In many ways, the trade personifies where each team is on the winning curve, and the expectations of fans and the front-office alike. A.J. Preller ‘went for it' in 2015, acquiring Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton. The Pads fell flat on their face and finished 74-88, 18 games behind the Dodgers. Preller emptied a good portion of his farm system and the trade with Boston helps build some much needed depth. The Red Sox were projected to win the American League East, but fell short in some part to a wretched bullpen (a portion of which is chronicled in an article I wrote last week on Craig Breslow).
In the short term, Kimbrel serves as an improvement to the Boston ‘pen --- this is not a surprise, as he'd be an improvement to any relief corps. The issue however is the cost of Kimbrel. A quadruple prospect return including the Sox third-best prospect per MLB.com and Baseball America's tenth best prospect in the entire Eastern League.
Manny Margot signed with the Sox in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic and is still only 21 years old. While the Red Sox outfield looks overcrowded at the top, there is plenty of time for him to develop considering he is yet to put up a full season at double-A. He's a good fielder with solid range who possesses excellent speed which translated to 39 steals in 52 tries as well as 36 doubles / triples in 110 games. Margot would likely be the top prospect in a number of other systems which would make the trade unprecedented as we've never seen a number one prospect traded for a closer (this isn't just appealing to tradition but shows how risky this type of trade is viewed by front offices). Margot is described as a five-tool player, and with the rapid ascent of Mookie Betts and the successful track-record of Boston's training and development, he could potentially be a star.
Not only did the Red Sox give up Margot, which is a bit of a coup in and of itself for a player who averages 65 innings per year. In addition however, Dombrowski included three (!) other prospects including MLB.com's number six Red Sox prospect and fourth best in the South Atlantic League (again, per BA) shortstop Javier Guerra. Guerra took a step forward at the plate in 2015 smashing 15 home runs. While this may be DD selling high (it's not likely he'll carry that power over to the Major League level) he possesses excellent defense at a premium position.
The other two players in the deal are more lottery tickets than highly touted prospects, with Logan Asuaje having potential to significantly move up the prospect rankings but with Logan Allen as a sneaky get for San Diego.
Allen is only 18 years old, and while he does not presently possess a put-away pitch, he is a typical command-first lefty ----- the type of player that we occasionally see break out in the big leagues as mid-rotation starters and we all question, ‘how did we miss this guy?'.
Dombrowski and the Red Sox made this deal from a position of prospect strength, and while they may have what is seemingly an embarrassment of riches in their minor league system, they paid a hefty price for Kimbrel. The Padres are not likely to be going anywhere over the next two to three years, and they did well to use Kimbrel to breath some new life into a depleted farm system.
The Red Sox however seem to be taking for granted the depth of their system and sacrificed immense potential future value for a player that is likely to provide one to two wins above replacement over the next few seasons.
Providence Journal beat writer Brian MacPherson discussed the dangers of trading prospects with whom a front office is unfamiliar; this trade includes several pieces that may come back to bite the Red Sox. All of this to ensure the team is victorious in a game in which they have a ninth inning lead and are highly likely to win anyway.
Kimbrel is an asset and a breath of fresh air in what proved to be a troubled Boston ‘pen, but a reliever under team control for three years (plus an option yet) isn't worth what the Red Sox dealt. Preller did well on this deal and the opportunity cost for the Red Sox in not negotiating a more impactful player for Margot and Guerra is the biggest takeaway of this trade. Perhaps none of the aforementioned prospects come to fruition, but the Red Sox track record of drafting impact players may end up making them look quite foolish.