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Red Sox emerged from a crossroads the Blue Jays may soon face

Sportsnet logo Sportsnet 2017-04-20 Shi Davidi

TORONTO — Coming off a crash-and-burn campaign, the Boston Red Sox expected big things in 2015 after they added high profile free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval and acquired starters Rick Porcello and Wade Miley to augment a veteran core. Instead, they collapsed again, but out of the ashes of that season a young core that is the envy of the American League East really began to take form.

Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright each made significant strides over the final two months of that season as the Red Sox went 32-26. During that stretch, one Toronto Blue Jays player described them as their toughest opponent in the AL.

Now, with their mix of high-priced veterans like Chris Sale, the injured David Price, Craig Kimbrel and Dustin Pedroia, a young core integrating the talented Andrew Benintendi, and a still middle-of-the-pack farm system, the defending AL East champs are among the game’s best-positioned organizations top to bottom.

“To me, the best way to break a young player in is with a club that has other players that are really the main forces,” says Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. “If you can break in a player or two per year under that circumstance, to keep that youthful enthusiasm and keep that group growing and to keep some type of stability from a cost perspective, that’s the ideal. It’s not always possible.”

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That’s the existential reality the Blue Jays are wrestling with at the moment, as their very talented roster is largely made up of veteran players with limited youthful upside beyond Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna, Devon Travis and Kevin Pillar. Complicating things is the gap between their top prospects and the big-leagues, with only triple-A first baseman Rowdy Tellez even remotely close to knocking on the door, and he hasn’t reached the porch yet.

As a result, the Blue Jays may at some point find themselves facing the kind of trade deadline decisions the Red Sox made in 2014 under Ben Cherington, Dombrowski made as president and GM of the Detroit Tigers in 2015 and New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made last year after win-now seasons went awry.

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