The days of posturing, pretenses, bluffs, deception and even out-and-out lies are about to end.
It’s that time of year where every Major League Baseball club’s front office must call and turn over their cards.
In or out?
And if you want to win, just what are you prepared to do?
Gone are the days when everyone wanted to win, no one intentionally tanked, and when teams’ mantra was World Series or bust?
Well, in the words of one veteran executive: “I don’t think it’s about winning the World Series, anymore. I think most teams are just satisfied to just make the playoffs. They’d rather draw their 2.5 million fans, get their TV ratings, and be a contender every year rather than to go all in to win the World Series.’’
Yes, you remember those days, when Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy led the San Francisco Giants to World Series championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and no one really cared that they didn’t make the playoffs in those odd-numbered years.
Now, general managers and executives would prefer hoarding prospects and thumping their chest for being on the cover of Baseball America, rather than trading away a prospect who turns into an All-Star, no matter the instant reward.
They’re afraid of being Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cubs president who acquired All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the New York to win the 2016 World Series champion, even though it cost them 2019 All-Star infielder Gleyber Torres.
“If not now, when?’’ said Epstein, the architect of three World Series champions.
Boston Red Sox president and GM David Dombrowski once traded future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson in a package for veteran starter Mark Langston during a playoff run in Montreal. Here we are 30 years later, and he hasn’t stopped going for the gusto. He never let prospects stand in the way of acquiring Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and David Price in Detroit, or Chris Sale or Craig Kimbrel in Boston. The deft moves to acquire Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce and Ian Kinsler last summer led to the Red Sox’s World Series championship.
“For me, if you have in your heart you can win a World Series,’’ Dombrowski told USA TODAY Sports, “you do everything you can to win it, by whatever means. But there’s been a general change in [trade] philosophy over the years.
“One big thing is that there is so much scrutiny attached to players that you give up these days. There’s so much media coverage that everyone knows these players. Years ago, nobody knew who these prospects were. So there’s hesitation to make bigger moves.