Boston Red Sox: More acquisitions possible after Price?
The Boston Red Sox moved quickly to get their new ace David Price. Now, also with elite closer Craig Kimbrel and 4th outfielder Chris Young, are the Red Sox finished acquiring players for 2016?
It must be tough running the Boston Red Sox Twitter account these days. The biggest free agent signing of the offseason just happened and you can’t even talk about it. David Price is a Red Sox, in exchange for the most lucrative contact given to a pitcher in baseball. You know it, your friends know it and the constant barrage of Twitter spam speaks of little else. It’s the baseball equivalent of Area 51, it’s real but it doesn’t officially exist, so you’re stuck posting a gif of Jerry Remy doing the Wally Wave for now I guess. Until Friday that is.
On Friday it is expected that Red Sox President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski will proudly introduce Boston to its new ace. Then you can expect all the hype to build, statistics being quoted all over the place, goodness knows Price is good for it. He’s a known commodity here and even the more simple baseball fan is aware he’s among the best there is. His $217 million contract speaks volumes.
Once the dust settles though, we can start looking ahead to 2016. Many expect Dombrowski to have finished with his rebuild for the offseason, which is remarkable given the annual Winter Meetings, which traditionally kicks the hot stove into overdrive, haven’t even happened yet. It makes sense too. After all, he got his ace, he got his elite closer Craig Kimbrel too. Both have a strong argument for being better than all others at their craft. He added a 4th outfielder, Chris Young, a sleeper hit that beneath it all could be the most Fenway Park-built player in his position. Those were his targets and he made short work in hitting each one, so wouldn’t you expect that to be it for now? I wouldn’t be so sure.
Speaking on a conference call with WEEI, Dombrowski had this to say:
"“We’ll be open-minded going into the Winter Meetings,” Dombrowski said. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days leading into that, but be in a position that I think our major moves are done. But when you go to the Winter Meetings, you can never tell what happens.”"
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Dombrowski, it must be noted, has been candid and up front about his intentions from day one on the job. Even so, it would still come as a surprise to discover he intends to sit on his hands for the rest of the offseason, as far as making further moves is concerned. Certainly, one could expect Boston now to bow out of the free agency market, but trades are always an option and a careful observer will note that Dombrowski kept that door wide open.
As further proof, one need only look at the current state of the pitching staff with Price at the head. I tried counting on my hand and ran out of fingers, usually not a good sign when attempting to get a feel how a five man rotation is going to pan out. All in, you’re looking at a rotation vaguely resembling this – Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, plus one of Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson. Did I forget anyone? Steven Wright for depth, of course, but that accepted it seems to me to be far too bloated and the chances are likely at least one piece gets moved on in a trade.
Which is most likely to get moved on? My bet is Miley. He’s a lefty like Price and the Red Sox may prefer a right-handed option for balance. Not only so, Miley doesn’t have the youth of Owens and Johnson, who are club controlled under minimal contracts for years and can continue to exist in AAA Pawtucket, and Miley doesn’t have the upside, successful bullpen experience as a fall-back or moustache of Joe Kelly. Miley could be used for depth, but he’s more valuable than that. He’s the kind of pitcher that would interest many clubs, a solid innings eater who is consistent. Consistently average, but consistent none the less.
Assuming that Dombrowski feels wary of moving on any further talent in the farm, having dipped into it for Kimbrel, he could find Miley to be both expendable for Boston and desirable for others. Having acquired his three major pieces, this creates further leverage in that the Red Sox are no longer so desperate. Clubs attempted to gauge Dombrowski for their starting pitchers, such as the Cleveland Indians with Carlos Carrasco, in the knowledge that Boston was desperate for an ace. Well, now they’ve got one. So too, the Cincinnati Reds tried to extort an obscene rate from the Red Sox for a year’s rental of Aroldis Chapman, knowing they really needed an elite reliever. Well, now they’ve got one. With that taken care of, Dombrowski doesn’t need to make any moves, but he can if he believes he can acquire some value from it.
What kind of value? Well, an obvious target may be more help for the bullpen. The addition of Kimbrel removes Boston’s 9th inning and the presence of Koji Uehara all but guarantees the same for the 8th. The 7th is more a question mark overall, as is ultimately Uehara’s health – he will be 41 after all. A left handed option alongside righties Kimbrel, Uehara and Junichi Tazawa would make a lot of sense here.
Then again, a case could be made that it would be more prudent to save expendable trade chips to try and move Hanley Ramirez. I know, sounds unlikely, right? But it’s really the last big noose around the Red Sox neck going into 2016. Ramirez is the defensive equivalent of a chocolate fireguard. Bringing in the likes of Price, career ERA of 1.95 at Fenway, then giving him a liability at first base is damaging to him and to us. Dombrowski ridding himself of Ramirez is the true definition of addition by subtraction, especially with a young and capable player like Travis Shaw waiting in the wings.
Unfortunately, that’s all just a bit too unrealistic. I’m not sure there’s a fit for Ramirez at any club in the country and tying his contract to other more desirable ones, such as Miley, would still be unlikely to garner results. That may not stop Dombrowski from trying, all the same. And he has the flexibility to do that, nothing ventured, nothing gained and ultimately not much lost either.
Next: Boston Red Sox - Why David Price is a really good deal
He’s got his ace, his closer and his insurance policy in the outfield. The Red Sox, indeed, don’t seem likely to make any more “big moves” this offseason, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few more deals they can make. There’s still plenty of time for further deals and don’t be surprised if we are all talking about another change in the line-up long before the Red Sox Twitter account is permitted to join in.