The Atlanta Braves signed Billy Wagner today, and in the process they gave the Boston Red Sox a first-round draft pick and a supplemental draft pick between the first and second rounds. All that for a guy who pitched fewer than 14 innings for Boston.
It’s easy to point to this move and claim it’s proof of a broken system — and maybe it is — but back in August, when the Red Sox traded two spare parts for Wagner, the fact that the Red Sox had the right to offer Wagner arbitration but not pick up his option was reported. It was a known and accepted part of the trade. When Wagner became a Type-A free agent, it became perhaps the most important part of the deal. Love or hate the Red Sox, it now seems to be a heckuva move for Boston.
The balance of power hasn’t shifted. The baseball world hasn’t flipped upside down. Theo Epstein made a nice move, that’s all. The thing to take from it is that there’s always a bigger picture. Trading for Wagner was a short-term move in August. It’s become a long-term move in December.
As much as fans and media would love to see the Yankees get the offseason wheeling and dealing started, the truth is that patience remains a virtue. Brian Cashman is going to meet with his owners. He’s going to gather his scouts. He’s going to talk to his manager. He’s going to set a game plan.
Then he’s going to act.
Quick, small-picture moves destroy good baseball teams. Cashman is a big picture kind of guy. That’s a good thing for the Yankees.