The Red Sox need Craig Kimbrel

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Last night, Dave Dombrowski made the first big offseason move for the Red Sox by trading Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Logan Allen for Craig Kimbrel. The deal shouldn’t come off as a surprise, since Dombrowski said a few weeks ago that he’s going to prioritize on pitching and a fourth outfielder. Even though Kimbrel is considered one of the best closers of the last few years, the trade upset a fair amount of Red Sox fans because Margot and Guerra were commonly described as some of the team’s best prospects and trading them for a RP and not a SP seems like a risky move. This team is not the kind of team that is satisfied by just making the playoffs and if the Red Sox want to win the World Series again, risks have to be taken.

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  • The 2015 Red Sox were not as bad as their record suggests, but they obviously were a flawed team and their bullpen was one of their biggest problems, if not the biggest. Ending the season with a save percentage of 66.67% (20th among Major League) should say enough of how the bullpen performance affected the Red Sox. Letting Craig Breslow, Jean Machi and Alexi Ogando go was definitely the right decision, but it isn’t enough to fix the bullpen. Koji Uehara is getting old and we are not sure how reliable he is going to be after his injury, and the same could be said of Junichi Tazawa since he was shut down for the season with just a few weeks left on the calendar. The solution was clearly to go and get the best relievers available, because the problem couldn’t be solved from within.

    The list of options for the Red Sox included names like Aroldis Chapman, Joakim Soria, Darren O’Day (the amazing thing is that the Red Sox can still get a name from that list) but believe it or not, Kimbrel was the best option and the price Dombrowski had to paid was fair. No one likes when their team trades two of their best prospects, but that’s only a harmful thing for the Red Sox if both of them end up reaching their expectations.

    Margot is a center fielder with the potential of being one of the best defensive players in baseball. With a decent bat at the Minor League level and the ability to run the bases really well, Margot is definitely a great player in the making. He doesn’t seem like the type of Minor Leaguer who stops being outstanding once he reaches the Majors, but we do not know when he is going to reach his full potential. It’s fair to say that by the time Margot becomes the player the Red Sox and Padres expect him to be, Kimbrel is going to be in his last year before free agency.

    The same can be said for the rest of the prospects, but the bottom line is that we are not sure of how their careers are going to unfold. Let’s take Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jacoby Ellsbury as an example. Some reports say that the Red Sox were willing to re-sign Ellsbury in 2013, but that they were also confident in letting him go because Bradley Jr. was going to be an improved version of him. Defensively, Bradley Jr. has been way better than Ellsbury, but his approach at the plate was one of the main reasons the 2014 season was a never ending torture for the Red Sox.

    Bradley Jr. was one of the best hitters of the Minor Leagues, but after almost two years in the Major Leagues we’re still waiting to see consistency on his part. He had one excellent month this past season, but he cooled down and went back to being the same hitter we’re used to see. The potential is there, but the Red Sox are running out of patience because of his offense and this was not supposed to happen.

    We do not know how exceptional Margot, Guerra, Asuaje and Allen are going to be at the Major League level, but we know how good Kimbrel is. And we also know that the Red Sox need someone like him right now.

    There are two major questions that put this trade into perspective:

    1. Why would the Red Sox pass on one of the best closers ever and hold on to prospects who might be good if they’re trying to win now?
    2. You have to give good players in order to receive good players. Do we really believe that the any team is going to ask for Robbie Ross Jr. and Pablo Sandoval for someone with a contract and talent similar to Kimbrel’s?

    And hey, we still have Yoan Moncada, Anderson Espinoza, and Andrew Benintendi.

    After two straight last-place seasons, the Red Sox can’t afford to be mediocre again. Unlike the Padres, the Red Sox are not in rebuild mode. They need players who are talented now, not prospects with a bright future ahead of them.