Reviewing the Red Sox trade for Craig Kimbrel

Apr 16, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) pitches during the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) pitches during the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Just how are the players the Red Sox traded for Craig Kimbrel performing? Let’s take a look.

Craig Kimbrel has been a bullpen horse for the Red Sox and is delivering as expected with a fastball that averages 97.3 MPH and a filthy curve at 87.1 MPH. The little blip that began in the first few weeks has long dissipated. Kimbrel’s K/9 is 14.82 and the early season walks have inflated his BB/9 to 4.24.

Examining Kimbrel’s performance as the season nears the quarter pole the one negative I can dredge up is the sudden increase in Kimbrel’s FB% that is – by far – a career high at 64.3%. Conversely, the GB% is down to 21.4%. Batters are stroking a .107 against Kimbrel and the BABIP is .154. Kimbrel is as advertised and his shut down methods reverberate through the bullpen by lessening the load – hopefully – for his late inning mates.

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Kimbrel came to Boston for a wealth of prospects in a trade with the San Diego Padres. A mother lode from the Red Sox system to fortify the eternally dreary Padres. Just how has that worked out? Let’s take a glance at the four bodies that moved westward. Three are in the Padres’ top ten and the only one excluded may be the first called up – Carlos Asuaje.

Asuaje has simply been a hitting machine for the Padres Triple-A affiliate in El Paso. The slash for the 24-year-old left-hand hitting infielder is .328/.371/.527 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 34 games. Asuaje is primarily a second baseman but has seen duty at third, short and the outfield.

In the Boston system, the grand leap from A+ to Double-A took an offensive nick to Asuaje when his .323 average at Salem in 2014 sunk to .251 on the move to Portland in 2015. With Marco Hernandez already seeing time in Boston, the huge contract to Yoan Moncada and Dustin Pedroia signed into the next decade – Asuage became expendable.

Asuaje recently was honored with being named the second baseman on the MLB Prospect Watch weekly All-Star team and a player not considered the primary target in the trade may actually be the first of the traded triumvirate plus one be called up.

Logan Allen fascinated me last season with one specific statistic – in 24.1 innings the 18-year-old left-hander issued a lone walk. Allen also fanned 26 and posted an ERA of 1.11. Allen has four pitches and tosses all with a degree of accuracy that Henry Owens should be quite jealous of.

Allen is currently ranked seventh on the Padres prospect watch and has moved on to A ball in Fort Wayne where Allen has both started (3 games) and worked out of the bullpen (4 games). The move up has certainly not registered similar numbers as in 2015, but in 23 innings the walks stand at eight with 23 strikeouts. Allen has posted a 2-2 record and his ERA is at 2.74.

Javier Guerra played short for the Greenville Drive in 2015 and was part of that hitting machine in the Class A South Atlantic League. Guerra slammed 15 home runs had 68 RBI, while slashing .279/.329/.449. Playing short is not exactly a quick trip career path with Xander Bogaerts being quite possibly the best in the game, so Javier became expendable.

Guerra is ranked second in the Padres system and adjustment to the next level Lake Elsinore Storm in High A ball has not been seamless with a current slash of .228/.288/.370 with four home runs and 17 RBI, but Guerra is only 20-years-old and certainly has time on his side. One negative that screams out is 45 K’s in 140 plate appearances.

The centerpiece of the deal was fleet-footed ball hawk Manuel Margot, who is now ranked number one in the Padres system. With Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Andrew Benintendi in the wings the speedy Margot became available.

For the Red Sox in 2015, Margot moved up from Salem to Portland with a healthy two team slash of .276/.324/.419 and an impressive 39 steals in 52 attempts while playing a major league ready center field.

This season Margot is with El Paso and is impressing with a slash of .281/.338/.415 with a pair of home runs and 18 RBI. The defense is elite and so is Margot’s plus speed with 11 steals in 16 attempts. No one will be shocked if Margot is the starting center fielder for the Padres in 2017. This kid could be a fine MLB player.

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The best deals are the ones that help both teams and that will certainly be evaluated three or four years from now. For Boston, all four players were expendable with possible career paths in Boston closed off. For the Padres, it represents young and controllable talent that could be a positive impact as short as this season.

Sources: MLB prospect watch. Baseball-reference. FanGraphs.
Statistics through 5/15.