Corey Seager? Julio Urias? Joc Pederson?
The Dodgers have held onto all three, despite plenty of chances to trade them. The Dodgers believe — and they are not alone — that the best chance for long-term success is to retain their very best prospects and blend them onto the major league roster.
Dave Dombrowski, the general manager of the Boston Red Sox, does not agree. On Tuesday, he traded the best prospect in baseball — infielder Yoan Moncada — as the headliner in a four-player package to acquire Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale.
Dombrowski also traded five quality prospects to the San Diego Padres in two trades last year, for closer Craig Kimbrel and starter Drew Pomeranz.
Sale, 27, would stand out in any pitching crowd, but even more so in a market where the top remaining free-agent pitcher might be Ivan Nova. Sale has finished in the top 5 in American League Cy Young voting in each of the last five years, and he is under contract for $12 million in 2017, $12.5 million in 2018 and $13.5 million in 2019.
That’s an extraordinary bargain in a winter when the price of journeyman pitching has remained high. The Miami Marlins signed Edinson Volquez for two years and $22 million, and the Texas Rangers signed Andrew Cashner for one year and $10 million.
The Red Sox properly paid an extraordinary price, in a package that includes 103-mph fireballer Michael Kopech. But Moncada is the star, a 21-year-old ready for prime time.
The Red Sox blew past international bonus limits to sign him last year for $63 million — a $31.5-million bonus, plus a 100% tax. The new collective bargaining agreement puts a hard cap on the amount teams can spend on international amateurs, almost certainly putting an end to eight-figure bonuses for Latin American teenagers.
The trade gives the Red Sox a formidable rotation headed by Sale, David Price and AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.
The trade also gives the Red Sox a surplus of starting pitching, including left-handers Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez and right-handers Clay Buchholz and Steven Wright.
That adds to the supply of starters available in trade, including Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers and Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly of the Tampa Bay Rays.