There are plenty of risks to trading Yoan Moncada.
There’s the risk that he becomes a Hall-of-Fame caliber player with another team. There’s the risk that the player you get in return doesn’t help win you a championship. There’s the risk that your focus on the now could affect your future.
All those are obvious. And to be honest, it could be said about any young, top prospect who has ever been traded.
The closer we get to the MLB non-waiver trade deadline on Monday, Aug. 1, the more Moncada’s name will be mentioned in rumors and speculation. Unfounded or not, the reality of the trade deadline is that you’ve got to give up something to get something. And if the Red Sox want to acquire the pitching they need to make a serious run at a World Series championship, then they’ll be no exception to the rule.
Right now, Moncada is the organization’s No. 1 prospect. At 21 years of age, the second baseman was just promoted to Double-A Portland this week. His name — along with 21-year-old outfielder Andrew Benintendi — will be thrown around during the next month. Not just by people like me on sports-talk shows, but also by the teams who the Red Sox will undoubtedly contact on their search for a dominant arm.
The sense is that Moncada is untouchable. Can’t have him. Mention his name, immediately hear a dial tone. And while I agree with all the aforementioned risks of moving someone who has as much potential as Moncada, I also know there’s no guarantee that potential turns into the sure thing.
In my mind, no prospect is ever “untouchable.” When Moncada’s name comes up in a trade rumor, I’ll first ask the simple question, “What are the Red Sox getting in return?” It’s then that I’ll decide whether or not they should trade him. Because it really is all about the return.
For a rental? I’m all set. But for a stud pitcher in his mid-to-late 20’s who is under control? Well, now we have ourselves a conversation.
Those who disagree will point to this year’s Red Sox. They’ll point out that Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr., could all be starting for the American League in the All-Star Game in July. Not bad for a trio of Red Sox prospects who actually lived up to the hype and turned potential into the sure thing.
The argument can be made that because of the Major-League production from those three youngsters, the proof is in the pudding. Holding onto your top prospects works out, they’ll tell you. And in this case, they’re right. They have a legitimate argument. And Bogaerts, Betts, and Bradley Jr. are living proof that the rebuilding process can be homegrown.
Their success can be looked at as a sign that believing in the farm system actually works. But it can also be looked at as a sign that the Red Sox have enough offense to win right now. And the kids are young enough where they’ll be producing for years to come.
Also, give me Bogaerts, Betts, and Bradley Jr., and I’ll give you pitching prospects Henry Owens and Brian Johnson. Had either one of those starters panned out to be what they were hyped up to be, the idea of trading Moncada wouldn’t need to be a topic of conversation in the first place. As everybody knows, though, the Red Sox need a top-of-the-rotation arm. And they may need to give up one or more of their top prospects to get it. That is why Moncada will be one of the first players that general managers will inquire about.
There are risks, for sure. But if the right pitcher was on his way to Boston, those risks might not be greater than the reward.