BOSTON — Acquiring Edwin Diaz in a hypothetical trade would have been a mistake for the Red Sox. Not because he’s anything less than excellent, but because the Sox can’t put all their prospect eggs in one basket, not for a reliever who’s at peak market value — again.
Diaz is reportedly about to be packaged with Robinson Cano in a blockbuster deal with the Mets.
The Sox have already been down the road of trading for premium relievers with years of control, and they’ve been burnt for it. Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg both haven’t panned out.
Rightly, people can say that the Smith deal -- coincidentally, also with Seattle -- didn’t see the Sox lose any talent they feel regret about. But that’s missing the point. The talent the Sox gave up was talent they theoretically could have used in another way, in another deal.
Going after Diaz would be the opposite of bargain hunting for a team that at some point, if it cares about sustainability, needs to prioritize bargains. The team both depleted its pipeline and has done little to refill it under Dave Dombrowski.
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No one's complaining because they're the reigning champs. Nonetheless, this winter is about the future, and Diaz probably will never command a higher trade value.
Relievers are volatile year to year, too. They can be pushed aside a bit for starters in the postseason, as the Red Sox showed us themselves in 2018.
Plus, there’s a number of strong relievers available via free agency. The Sox definitely need to add to their ‘pen, or at least maintain the status quo, with Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel free agents.
As a general rule of thumb, a team giving up prospects should be less desirable for fans than a team giving up dollars.
We know precisely how teams can acquire young talent, the different avenues. It’s regulated: Clubs get draft picks, some money in the international market. And then from there, you can trade.
We know what’s in a prospect pool. There are top-10 and top-30 lists readily available.
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We have no clue, however, about how much money teams actually make, can afford or reasonably should be able to afford. We just just accept that a team will probably stop spending in a certain range.
Let the Red Sox pay for relievers this winter, just in dollars. They're easier to get back than prospects.
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