Bobby Valentine was never the first choice to replace Terry Francona as the manager of the Boston Red Sox following the 2011 season. No, the Red Sox seemingly settled for Francona after they were unable to convince Toronto to allow them to talk John Farrell for the position.
That is, they were denied the ability to talk to him without forking over the necessary compensation package in return.
Now, here we are at the end of the 2012 season, and the likely end of Valentine’s short reign in Boston, and Farrell’s name is again surfacing amongst the favorites for the job. Farrell is again a favorite because of his time as Boston’s pitching coach, a role he served in successfully from 2007-2010, and a role which Boston has struggled to fill with a quality candidate since.
The thought immediately turns to Farrell being able to resuscitate the struggling Boston pitching staff. He could get Jon Lester back to being one of the most dominating lefties in baseball. He could help Clay Buchholz become the consistent stopper that he has only flirted with being. Oh, and what he could do with John Lackey!
Of course, that is if Toronto is willing to let him go for a lateral move (let alone a division rival), something they instituted a strict policy against last winter. That said, it remains to be seen just how highly the Blue Jays think of Farrell in the first place, as Toronto finished 81-81 in Farrell’s first season at the helm and are currently 61-75, in last place in the American League East entering Friday’s action.
However Toronto feels about Farrell’s future north of the border, they obviously recognize that he has a perceived value to the Red Sox and, if they are even willing to grant Boston the right to talk to Farrell, they will want a solid return package. And with Boston having added some quality pieces to their farm system recently, the Blue Jays will likely start there.
Is anyone else feeling a bit of Deja Vu?
The whole concept of compensation for non-players took a true turn last winter when the Red Sox and the Cubs haggled over who Chicago would send to Boston in order to allow Theo Epstein out of his contract a year early. Of course, Boston dug their own grave in those negotiations by letting Epstein go before the package had been agreed upon, a mistake the Toronto will surely no repeat in any talks regarding Farrell. And it will not come down to a Chris Carpenter type prospect either, the Blue Jays will want someone who is major league ready or projected to be there shortly.
In the end, it is perhaps a pipe dream for the Red Sox to get reacquainted with Farrell. They’ll likely need to settle for a secondary candidate like Dave Martinez or Tim Wallach. But if they want to do it right this winter, and they are serious about developing this team for the long term, it starts in the dugout, and John Farrell is the right man for that job.