The MLB trade deadline is creeping up, and with less than two weeks to go, expect this deadline to be busy.
A team that is expected to make multiple moves before the deadline is the Boston Red Sox. Some positions of need include third base and the bullpen.
While I have been critical of Dombrowski, I believe he has done a solid job thus far as the lead executive in Boston, turning around a fifth place team in the division to a world series contender in less than two years.
Looking through Dombrowski’s short time here in Boston, he has made five major trade acquisitions. The five main players acquired in those deals are closer Craig Kimbrel, relief pitcher Carson Smith, starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz, relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg and starting pitcher Chris Sale.
When you individually analyze each deal closely, Dombrowski has only lost one significant trade, won three and is 50/50 on the last one.
Trade #1: Red Sox traded prospects Logan Allen, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Manuel Margot to the San Diego Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel.
If Craig Kimbrel pitched this year like he did last year, this trade would look bad. Now that Kimbrel seems to have settled in, he is pitching on another level.
Manuel Margot and Carlos Asuaje are both highly regarded prospects, and have the potential to not only be solid major league starters, but to become a difference maker.
So although San Diego did win the trade, it does not mean that the Red Sox lost it.
San Diego got to add two young players to a minor league system that needed improvement. The Red Sox had a plethora of minor league talent, and needed help to fix the bullpen.
Win or lose for Dombrowski? Win. This trade is a classic win-win trade.
Trade #2: Red Sox traded relief pitcher Jonathan Aro and starting pitcher Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners for prospect Roenis Elias and relief pitcher Carson Smith.
The main basis of this trade was Wade Miley for Carson Smith. Both Aro and Elias do not seem to have much of a chance of grabbing a significant big league roster spot.
Wade Miley lasted 19 starts in Seattle, before being traded to Baltimore last year. Carson Smith has thrown less than three innings in a little over a year and a half.
However, it looks like Carson Smith may be nearing a return soon. If he can provide some stability to this bullpen in 2017, this trade could end up being lopsided.
Thus far though, no team has won this trade. Miley got the Mariners a bottom of the rotation starter, but how much is that worth?
Win or lose for Dombrowski? Draw. An ugly draw, thus far.
Trade #3: Red Sox trade prospect Anderson Espinoza to the San Diego Padres for starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.
I hated this trade when it was first done. But Pomeranz has been a pleasant surprise this year.
Since manager John Farrell and Pomeranz exchanged words in the bullpen against the Oakland Athletics, Pomeranz has elevated his play.
In the 11 starts since the incident, Pomeranz has pitched 64.2 innings, posting a 7-1 record with an ERA of 2.64, while striking out 63 men and issuing 23 free passes.
For the year, Pomeranz is 10-4 with a 3.51 ERA. Needless to say, Pomeranz has become the solid starter he was in the first half of 2016 with the Padres, prior to being traded.
Pitchers take time to settle into Boston, and it looks like Pomeranz has finally settled in.
Meanwhile, Espinoza has struggled with injuries since being traded. Espinoza has yet to pitch in 2017.
In 24 starts in A ball last season, he posted a 6-11 record with a 4.49 ERA. Although he is still very young (19 years old), he has not showed flashes of the high upside many scouts have been waiting to see.
The argument that could be said against this trade, is that at the time, Espinonza was a highly regarded prospect. He was the best pitching prospect in the Boston minor league system.
Dombrowski could have potentially traded Espinoza for a starting pitcher better than Drew Pomeranz. However, Pomeranz has excelled this year, and is making said argument wrong, since the Red Sox actually received a quality starting pitcher.
Win or lose for Dombrowski? Win. It could look bad if Espinoza stays healthy and reaches his upside, but Pomeranz has looked too good recently to not chalk this one as a win for DD.
Trade #4: Red Sox traded prospects Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington and third baseman Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers for relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg.
Oh boy. If you think this looks bad now, wait until Dubon gets a crack at the major leagues.
Let’s look at the present view of this trade. Travis Shaw is enjoying a career year, at a position the Red Sox have sorely lacked production. Shaw has thus far posted a slash line of .292/.559/.918 with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have the combination of Brock Holt and Deven Marrero at the hot corner, and while the defense has been solid, the at bats have been near automatic outs.
If the Red Sox have kept Shaw, as insurance for when (not if) the Pablo Sandoval experiment went up into flames, he would be the lefty, power bat in the middle of the lineup that Boston has been missing, while also providing quality defense at third base.
While Dubon has not been lighting up the minors, he has shown the athleticism to become a solid middle infielder, as well as being able to get on base consistently.
If Dubon and/or Pennington can contribute in the major leagues, this trade will look even worse for Dombrowski.
Win or lose for Dombrowski? Bad loss. And it could get worse.
Trade #5: Red Sox traded prospects Luis Alexander Basabe, Victor Diaz, Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada to the Chicago White Sox for starting pitcher Chris Sale.
One of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent sports history, this trade is the defining moment thus far in DD’s short Red Sox tenure. Trading the number one prospect in all of baseball, among other solid prospects for a top three pitcher in baseball.
Chris Sale has been electrifying for Boston in his debut season, boasting a 12-4 record with an AL-leading 2.48 ERA. He is also on pace for over 300 strikeouts this season, becoming the fifth pitcher since 1998 to do so.
Moncada still has a high ceiling but his high strikeout rate in triple A this year (33%) is concering. He was striking out a high rate in his short stint in the majors last year, and he has not improved it yet.
Kopech is the same case. He struggled with walks in the minor leagues with Boston, and is averaging 5.4 walks/game in double A this year.
That is not to say these prospects will not pan, but the two main prospects in the deal are flawed. Chris Sale this year, has been nearly flawless. Without him, the Red Sox would be in deep trouble.
Win or lose for Dombrowski? Big win. Chicago has not lost the trade, but we can not accurately gauge if they have also won until the prospects traded get their cracks at the major leagues.
Dombrowski’s record for his major trades is 3-1-1, by my count, and that means Red Sox fans should trust him as we near the trade deadline to fill in two major holes for a World Series contending squad.
Although the farm system does not have much left, for the most part, Dombrowski has turned around this team from basement dwelling to a top team in the conference. If he trades for a difference maker, this team could do serious damage in October.
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