The worst feeling for any diehard baseball fan knowing there’s only a month and a half left till spring training. The true dead time in baseball. Especially for the Boston Red Sox as the team looks pretty set barring anymore major trades or signings from President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Speaking of Dombrowski, he has bad to improve his pitching staff this offseason in a big way. So what does he do? He goes and gets the best pitcher on the trade market without trading any of his young core players.
The addition of Chris Sale has Red Sox fans buzzing, as they should. Sale, who will be 28 by the beginning of the season, was acquired in a blockbuster deal sending third basemen Yoan Moncada, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, and pitchers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz to the Chicago White Sox. Last year Sale went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strikeouts. Dombrowski has had a history of trading top prospects for a chance to win a World Series in a single season but in this situation, I’m okay with this. Sale is still under team control for three more years and their giving him pennies compared to what their giving David Price. A very hefty price to pay shipping out a top prospect like Moncada, but lets consider how the Red Sox season ended last year. When your CY Young award winner AND the pitcher you spend 217 million dollars on, get shelled in the first two games of a five game series, you can’t like your chances. Sure enough the eventual American League Champion Cleveland Indians swept Boston in the American League divisional series.
With Sale in Boston, this gives the Sox much needed depth in the rotation. We’re looking at a rotation that consists of David Price, Rick Porcello Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and a healthy Steven Wright. Drew Pomeranz and Joe Kelly will be waiting in the wings of a potential injury. Another man who was going to provide depth to the rotation was traded a week ago, ten-year vet Clay Buchholz. Clay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for second basemen Josh Tobias. Buchholz in his career with Boston ended up with a record of 81-61, an ERA of 3.96 and 899 strikeouts. Clay’s ten-year tenure was a roller coaster. That roller coaster included two World Series titles, several injuries, mediocre starts, a no hitter, a bad haircut, two All Star game appearances and a pounding headache to see pitch live. As much of a headache he was to see pitch on a yearly basis, he wasn’t the worst pitcher and he had his moments. Most importantly, there wasn’t much of a spot for Buchholz on this team. It was time to move on.
It remains to be seen what the Red Sox will be doing with their bullpen in 2017 especially with the loss of World Series hero Koji Uehara. As of right now, it looks as if newly acquired relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg will be taking over the role of Uehara as the setup man. Thornburg flew under the radar for the Milwaukee Brewers last year totaling 20 holds, 13 saves with a 2.15 ERA. Red Sox traded pitcher Josh Pennington, third basemen Travis Shaw, shortstop Mauricio Dubon and a player to be named later for Thornburg. Thornburg could be a decent insurance plan if something were to happen to closer Craig Kimbrel.
The overall pitching on this staff was very weak going into the offseason. Dombrowski made sure to bolster his pitching in time for next season. In the long term whether these moves pan out or not one thing is for certain, the Red Sox are a contender for the World Series for the next three years and that should get any Red Sox fan excited.
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