My advice for Red Sox players: Don’t buy a home in Boston, because you might not be here for long.
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has traded Mookie Betts, David Price, Mitch Moreland, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, and now Andrew Benintendi within the last calendar year.
He also has entertained offers for Christian Vázquez and probably regrets not dealing Jackie Bradley Jr. before he became a free agent.
Nate Eovaldi, Matt Barnes, and Eduardo Rodríguez shouldn’t get too comfortable, especially if they pitch well in the first half of the coming season.
Bloom said when he was hired 16 months ago that the goal was to improve the farm system and increase the flexibility of the major league roster. He’s done just that with what has been a constant churn of players.
The Sox have added 15 prospects via trade in the last calendar year, five still yet to be claimed. Two others have come in the Rule 5 Draft.
You probably won’t recognize many of the players on the Opening Day roster this season, but there’s a plan in place that can’t be fairly judged for another few years.
Whether Red Sox fans will remain invested in the team while that plan plays out remains to be seen. Ownership is banking on them regaining their interest if what Bloom is doing works.
Meanwhile, the 2018 championship team was further dismantled Wednesday night when the Sox sent Benintendi to Kansas City for outfielder Franchy Cordero and four prospects.
As part of a three-team deal, the Sox picked up minor league righthander Josh Winckowski and a player to be named later from the Mets along with two players to be named later from the Royals.
Cordero, 26, is only two months younger than Benintendi but has played 390 fewer major league games because of injuries.
Cordero has one more year of team control than Benintendi, and scouts love him because he’s big (6 feet 3 inches, 226 pounds), fast, and hits for power. His Bunyanesque deeds include a 489-foot homer at Chase Field in Phoenix in 2018.
But Cordero also has been traded twice in the last seven months and has had injuries to his right elbow, left quad, right wrist, right forearm, and left hip over the last three years.
“We feel there’s untapped upside there,” Bloom said. The scouts I’ve asked agree with that assessment.
Winckowski is a legitimate prospect who came to the Mets from the Blue Jays in the Steven Matz trade, and the players to be named later from both teams aren’t throw-ins.
The Red Sox structured the trade so they’ll have a chance to assess prospects from both teams before making their choices. That was important to them, given the minor league season being wiped out by the pandemic last year.
In 2018, the idea of trading Benintendi would have seemed ridiculous. But he has been an ordinary player since, his OPS dropping along with his defense in left field and willingness to steal bases.
That the Sox sold low on Benintendi and still received five players back speaks well of how Bloom drummed up his market.
“In navigating interest in Andrew throughout the offseason, we had a lot of conversations internally about where to set that bar and what a return might have to look like,” he said.
The Royals are betting they’ll get the 2018 version of Benintendi. General manager Dayton Moore told reporters they’re confident he can return to that level and has worked hard this winter with that goal in mind.
Benintendi, who doesn’t covet the spotlight, could well flourish in a smaller market. But the Sox saw this as a chance to get something of value for him while they could.
With pitchers and catchers scheduled for their first workout next Thursday, the Sox seem to have their roster set, although they have yet to officially announce the signings of Martin Perez and Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura.
Bradley is still a free agent, and Bloom gave his standard answer that he’s hopeful there could still be a fit. But it seems clear the Sox are just being polite about a well-respected player, and Bradley will land elsewhere.
Bloom said he believes the Sox can be a playoff team but acknowledged the odds are against that. A more realistic goal is being competitive — something they failed at miserably last season — and working more young talent onto the roster.
If the end result is an organization that builds multiple championship teams from within, this transition period will be better understood. For now, it’s another goodbye.