Boston Red Sox: Debunking myths about the Kimbrel trade
Apr 15, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) pumps his fist after recording a save in the 3-2 win over the against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
1) “It’s open season for the Red Sox prospects”
I’ve seen some speculate even before the deal that Dombrowski is going to sell the farm for pennies on the dollar and eventually vacate his position leaving the Red Sox organization a smoldering ruin in his wake. “Trader Dave” they call him. He’s like a shopkeeper in a video game. He stands around all day at the counter and will unquestioningly sell you everything he owns and more, because, he exists not for his own benefit but yours.
As an example for this, they bring the Detroit Tigers, a team Dombrowski was General Manager of for some 14 years. It’s difficult to describe the dire straights Detroit was going through and indeed would go through under Dombrowski’s first few years at the helm, but you’ve probably heard about their 2003 campaign in which they lost an American League all-time record 119 games. Following this, Dombrowski embarked on a major and far-reaching rebuild of the franchise which saw them come back to win the AL pennant in 2006 and play in the World Series. A remarkable turnaround, by any stretch of the imagination.
All this, of course, cost Detroit, as would further years of Dombrowski investment. The Tigers would remain in contention but the price was the farm system as it currently sits as empty as their trophy cabinet. That’s the history, now here’s why the present is different – this may seem a little too obvious, but Boston isn’t Detroit. Different locations, different environments, everything is so objectively not the same that I find it impossible to countenance the idea that Dombrowski is trying to treat them both with the same medicine.
The rebuild required for the Tigers was so sweeping that it required bleeding every drop of young blood the organization had. Look at the Red Sox and it becomes glaringly obvious that they have a young team, ready to compete but lacking a few more pieces to the puzzle. Namely pitching. When you’ve already got Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and Eduardo Rodriguez locked up for many years, you really are looking at putting the cherry on top. It seems bizarre, but it’s true, your last place Red Sox are ready for the postseason again and Dombrowski has an easier job than an ice cream taster.
The Red Sox have such vast resources at their disposal it’s a wonder they didn’t just buy the San Diego Padres and make it a cleaner job. Flush with cash and teaming with talent, Dombrowski has inherited a system designed already to succeed and with infinite protections against failure. I’m not sure Dombrowski could sell the farm even if he wanted to. He has financial resources on par with the upper echelons of MLB general managers. He has young players so great in quantity and quality that the prospects ranked numbers 5-8 are good enough to be the very best in any other system. I can’t fathom a binge that removes from the level of depth available to Boston today or in its future, this isn’t Detroit and the Red Sox aren’t the Tigers.
Dombrowski hasn’t declared open season for the farm and clearly isn’t willing to give up everything to get what he wants. Examples are rife and freely available. Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was dangled but the premium was ultimately too much for a year’s rental, even for Chapman. Peter Gammons states that Dombrowski approached the Oakland A’s some three times about young ace Sonny Gray and has sought out the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox about Carlos Carrasco and Chris Sale respectively. In all these cases he was rebuffed by the extortionate prices demanded:
"“Dombrowski has tirelessly scoured the game for a top starter. He tried Billy Beane three times before accepting that Sonny Gray is not being traded. The White Sox, understandably, want 20% of a winning team for Chris Sale. The Indians aren’t trading Carlos Carrasco without two or three significant pieces. Hey, with a four man rotation that averages better than a strikeout an inning, if they can patch their offense, they can be the AL Central Mets.”"
So we have yet to see how Kimbrel will perform in Boston, and until such times the jury will be out on whether the investment was worth it, or an overspend after all. That being so, it’s unfair and indeed untrue to suggest Dombrowski will tear down the Boston farm to garner success. Indeed, he doesn’t need to.
Next: Kimbrel isn't worth it