The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Red Sox farm system looks a bit different.
They added four prospects (plus a player to be named), dealt away another one (plus a player to be named), made moves with implications for the big league timetables of prospects, and have arrived at the point where top prospects should start getting promotions again.
A closer look:
On an off night for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, Valdez was awakened from a late-afternoon nap by a call from his manager. For the 23-year-old, amid a huge season — .326/.410/.608 with 22 homers and 49 extra-base hits in Double A and Triple A — being dealt to Boston by the Astros offered validation of the work he’d put in, particularly dating to the 2020 shutdown of the minor league season.
“I’m very appreciative that the Red Sox actually inquired about me,” Valdez said through WooSox bench coach Jose Flores. “That says that there’s interest.”
A lefthanded hitter, Valdez compacts dramatically in preparation to explode into the ball, yet his swing is surprisingly easy once he gets his front foot down. His ability to drive the ball to all fields suggests above-average offensive potential so long as he can handle velocity. There are positional questions, but he has a high likelihood of being a valuable part-time lefthanded bat and maybe an everyday player.
A .249/.398/.457 line with 15 homers and 23 steals in Double A suggests solid strike-zone management and hard contact, which, in combination with good outfield defense and speed, gives him a chance to emerge as an all-around contributor.
Evaluators had Valdez ahead of Abreu as a prospect but suggested the two are close, with Abreu’s glove giving him a more certain floor as a big league backup but Valdez having greater upside.
A fifth-round pick by the Padres out of Tennessee in 2021, he is hitting .221/.365/.358 in his first full pro season — with an incredible 55 steals in 91 games.
The 22-year-old’s high walk rate (17.4 percent) suggests strike-zone discipline but potentially too much passivity. Still, his up-the-middle defense (he plays mostly second, but also short and center) and speed suggest that if he can get on base at a decent clip, he could be a nice bench contributor.
A 12th-round pick by the Mariners in 2021, he was traded to the Padres to complete the Adam Frazier trade, then moved to the Sox in the Eric Hosmer deal.
The 22-year-old outfielder, who has spent most of this year in left, is hitting .263/.381/.396 with 6 homers and 33 steals. Ferguson and Rosier are lower-levels fliers with the athleticism to hope that they might one day become big leaguers.
He can now call himself a $44 million prospect given that the Padres essentially picked up all of Hosmer’s contract to acquire him.
It’s worth noting that the Sox and Padres, at this deadline and in the past, had discussed scenarios where the Sox would pay a sizable chunk of Hosmer’s contract while receiving prospects back. But with the Padres having drained their farm system in the Juan Soto and Josh Hader trades, they elected to pay off Hosmer’s deal and get a prospect back.
Groome, a 2016 first-rounder, at one point looked like a potential front-line power-pitching starter (sort of a lefthanded Josh Beckett), but his stuff never came back completely after his 2018 Tommy John surgery. He flashed decent velocity (up to 95) but couldn’t sustain it, instead relying on command, deception, and feel to forge his way to Triple A.
Evaluators saw a No. 5 starter but more likely a depth starter or multi-innings reliever.
With two of Groome’s three option years already burned, and with several young upper-level and big league pitchers ahead of him (Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski, Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Bryan Mata), it made sense for the Sox to deal Groome.
And in landing with the Padres, who have few upper-level pitchers to block him, Groome’s big league opportunity may have improved.
Absent the acquisition of Hosmer, the Sox may have felt compelled to push Casas to the big leagues in August. That’s no longer the case.
“I think really all it means [for Casas], as we have hoped all along, Triston’s timetable is going to be determined by Triston,” said chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
Casas has known Hosmer since he was 12 — the two are from the same area in South Florida and graduated from the same high school 10 years apart — and is eager for the chance to be in the same organization, and potentially on the same big league roster.
“It’s kind of coming full circle for us,” said Casas. “Getting a chance to play with him hopefully in the near future is going to be awesome. I’m really looking forward to getting to learn from him.
“Getting to prove whether one of us is better is not on my agenda. ,There’s a lot of different positions on the field — we’re both pretty athletic — and there’s a DH spot.”
He hasn’t played since July 29 after being hit on the hand by a pitch, but he has resumed swinging — and he endured a topsy-turvy Monday. The trade of Christian Vázquez appeared to clear a path to the big leagues, only to have that closed off for now by the acquisition of Reese McGuire.
Still, there remains strong sentiment within the system that Wong can be part of the big league catching situation in 2023, though given his injury history the last two years, he’s likely a second rather than a front-line option.
Marcelo Mayer and others
The deadline is chaotic, with players on high alert for the possibility they’ll move out of the organization. With occasional exceptions, the Sox tend to avoid promoting top prospects in the final weeks before the deadline.
With the deadline now past, a number of top prospects could start moving up. Most notably, there’s an excellent chance that top prospect Mayer (.296/.397/.510 with 9 homers and 35 extra-base hits in 62 games) could move up to High A Greenville for the end of the season.
Greenville shortstop Matthew Lugo has already started playing some second base, in part to prepare for a division of time when Mayer is promoted.