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Red Sox, Cubs Trades Might Have Added Benefit

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Gleyber Torres (Photo by Robert Gurganus) Gleyber Torres is the No. 27 prospect in the game. (Photo by Robert Gurganus)[/caption] The Red Sox's decision to trade Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz established early in this trade deadline season that teams would have to pay boutique-level prices in prospects to acquire big league talent. On Monday, multiple sources are reporting that the Cubs have agreed to trade Gleyber Torres, the No. 27 prospect in the Baseball America Midseason Top 100, as part of a four-player package (that also includes Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford) to land Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. As of 1 p.m. on Monday the trade was not yet official. JJ-CooperThat again is a high price, one that a number of scouts are saying is an overpay for two months of any reliever, no matter how good Chapman is. Obviously the Cubs can look at it a different way. Prospects don't always turn out. And even if they do, if Chapman helps the Cubs win a World Series this year, there is no price that is too high to pay to end a 108-year championship drought. The Cubs' case to move Torres is helped by the fact that it would be tough to find a spot for him in the big league lineup for several years. Chicago has Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez already entrenched on the big league roster to handle second base, shortstop and third base. And second baseman Ian Happ is quickly rising through the system. Boston can work from a similar rationale. Espinoza is years away from the big leagues and carries all the risks of a low Class A teenage pitcher. With Jason Groome and Michael Kopech in the farm system, Boston is dealing from a prospect position of strength. The Red Sox's struggles to develop homegrown starting pitching gives further weight to trading a top prospect for a big league starter. But there's an unknowing added benefit to the Cubs and the Red Sox trading premium prospects. In doing so, they have made life more difficult for other contenders looking to help their rosters at the trade deadline—it's isn't the primary reason they paid the price to make the deal. But the market has now been set for top-end relievers and mid-rotation starters. Neither the Red Sox or the Cubs is paying that price only to keep other teams from making moves. But if that is a secondary effect of the deals, it’s a significant added bonus for them. In trading Espinoza, ranked 15th in the Midseason Top 100, for Pomeranz, the Red Sox have set the price for what appears to be a very thin starting pitching trade market. A team looking to acquire Rich Hill or another mid-level starter now knows that the price to land a starter begins with top-level prospect talent. A package of non-Top 100 prospects will pale too much in comparison to what the Red Sox gave up. The same can be said for the reliever market. If a little less than a half season of Chapman lands a four-player package that includes a Top 30 prospect, the cost of Andrew Miller or Wade Davis
Padres NEW 900X635

Mason Thompson Shows Off At Instructs

The Padres added the 23-year-old to the 40-man roster after showing promise in the bullpen at fall instructs.

should be significantly higher considering their additional years of team control. That leaves other contenders facing a difficult decision. Do you pay a dear price in prospects for top talent, knowing that the cost is significantly higher than it has appeared to be in recent years? Do you instead try to shop in the bargain bin, acquiring second-tier big league help at a lower but still pricey cost? Or do you just sit out what appears to some teams to be a distorted market? None of those options seem appealing for other contenders. It is possible that if other teams choose to balk at current prices, the cost of big league help could dip just before the deadline. But it’s going to be hard for any selling team with similar talent to accept a price significantly lower than the Red Sox’s and Cubs’ packages.

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