Crazy things have happened this offseason in the MLB, and it’s not even Christmas, AND some of the biggest named free agents haven’t found a home yet. With a mostly lackluster free agent class, the market has resorted to trading as a means of acquiring the talent teams need to succeed next year. There have been some great moves, and as there always will be, there have been moves that have made people scratch their heads wondering just what some of these GMs were thinking.
Perhaps the most “earth shattering” move this offseason has been this acquisition of the ace Chris Sale by the Boston Red Sox. Sale came at a price however, and the Red Sox had to send the White Sox their #1 overall prospect (and the #1 prospect in baseball) Yoan Moncada, and the other stud sent to Chi Town was Michael Kopech: a 20-year-old RHP who was the Red Sox’s #3 overall prospect. With his electric fastball and crazy stuff coupled with his flowing hair, it’s hard not to see Jacob DeGrom or Noah Syndergaard in the young kid. While these two headlined the White Sox’s return, they also received Boston’s former #8 overall prospect, Luis Alexander Basabe, and other well regarded prospect Victor Diaz. Was the trading of three top 10 prospects really worth the acquisition of Chris Sale? This is not a hit to Sale in any way. He has the power to take a team from wild card contenders to league champion favorites. It’s just something about trading away possible future franchise cornerstones like Moncada and Kopech that makes me uneasy. This is a special case however. The Red Sox are LOADED with young talent at the MLB level. With MVP runner-up Mookie Betts leading the way, Boston features some of the most exciting young talent with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Blake Swihart highlighting the roster. This ended up being a great move for the Red Sox because they could afford it. Often times we will see teams use stellar young talent to acquire superstars that they have no use for. Last year the Arizona Diamondbacks sent young star Dansby Swanson to the Braves for Shelby Miller. This was not a move that needed to be made for the D-Backs. This was not going to be a move that threw them into contention. They still had many needs that needed to addressed, and so it turned out they wasted one of the games up and coming stars for a young pitcher in Miller who spent a lot of time in the minors last year. As stated earlier, however, this is not the case for the Red Sox. With an already red hot offense, solid pitching staff, and strong bullpen, acquiring Sale in a “win now” scenario was a great move for the team. This was a move that improved an already beast of a team into a perineal World Series favorite.
The White Sox have been the busiest team so far this offseason. Shortly after announcing they were sending Sale to Boston, the ChiSox announced they had completed yet another blockbuster trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for a wealth of prospects. In order to complete this trade for the 28 year old center fielder, the Nats had to throw in their #1, #3, and #6 prospects Lucas Gioloto, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning respectively. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t believe this trade had been completed when it was first announced. My issue was I had more faith in Mike Rizzo, the Nats GM. While the Red Sox were able to trade from their absolute wealth of young talent, this is just not the case for the Nats. Gioloto was close to the pros and would’ve provided a nice back up plan if one of the members of the rotation went down. This is a rotation that is beginning to age with a history of injury and inconsistency, outside of Max Scherzer who has been nothing short of dominant. What baffled me with this deal was the Nats’ clear partialness to Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen. Eaton hit about .280 last year and hit a career high in homeruns with 14. While he is an elite defender, I just can’t see how he is even put in the same category as McCutchen who had an unfortunate and untimely “down year”. McCuthcen has hit at least 20 homeruns in each of the last 5 seasons, and even has an MVP award to his name from 2013.Even though Cutch had a “down year”, he was by no means unproductive. At just two years older than Eaton, McCutchen has had a long history of success that would suggest his batting average of .256 last year was just a fluke. Andrew McCutchen is a great teammate and leader that would’ve produced for the Nats off the field just as much as he would on the field. Reports have come out saying that the Nationals were not willingly to part with their top OF prospect Victor Robles for McCutchen, but the team still ended up sending 3 of their top 10 prospects for Eaton. All I can say is that Robles pays off to be the player the Nationals think he will be, because I believe they missed out on a great player with Andrew McCutchen.
As the MLB Hot Stove continues to heat up, I expect many more amazing and horrifying deals to take place between now and the start of spring training. Stay tuned for the latest updates and analysis.