Before the All Star break, the Red Sox announced that Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz would rejoin Boston’s rotation in the second half. That’s really all you needed to know about the state of the team’s rotation.
Dave Dombrowski had to do something, and he had to do it quickly, as this Red Sox offense was more than worthy of being invested in. And it came at a steep price, as it appears the Red Sox have traded their top pitching prospect, right-hander Anderson Espinoza, for left-handed starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who was selected to his first All Star team this year.
Let’s get one thing straight here — the Red Sox overpaid for Pomeranz. I don’t care if he’s an All Star starting pitcher, who also happens to be under team control through 2018. While those details are certainly nice to hear, and the reasons why the Red Sox acquired him in the first place, it definitely stings to see Espinoza’s name being the one headed to San Diego. As a 27-year-old in his sixth major league season, Pomeranz doesn’t have much of a track record. In fact, this is his first season that he’s been able to eclipse 100 innings, never mind 200 innings, which is what you’d expect to be getting in return for your top pitching prospect, a 200-inning pitcher.
This season, Pomeranz is fourth in the MLB in ERA (2.47), and he’s struck out 115 batters in 102 innings. Dombrowski came to Boston with the reputation of being a guy who flips top prospects like crazy, but his hands were honestly tied here. Buchholz and Rodriguez have been so bad that he had no choice but to pull the trigger on something like this, in addition to the fact that the free agent market is going to be atrocious for starting pitching this offseason. If they didn’t get a young, cost controlled arm now, they’d be facing the same exact problem this winter. It just really, really sucks that the demand for quality starting pitching on the trade market is so high, given how awful the free agent class will be this winter, that it cost you your top pitching prospect for a starting pitcher who likely wouldn’t have been worth a chip like that otherwise.
This move also shows what lengths the Red Sox will go to avoid trading Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not pleased that Espinoza is going in this deal, but I’m definitely relieved that they were able to bring in a starting pitcher who can actually help them, while keeping names like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Moncada and Benintendi within the organization.
Espinoza is an unproven 18-year-old kid. By all accounts, he’s going to be something special some day. But who the fuck really knows? We’ve heard that story before with plenty of prospects. If the Red Sox wanted to make a run at the World Series this year, they needed help in their rotation, and they wanted to protect Benintendi and Moncada, so that’s what they did. Could trading Espinoza make Red Sox fans feel like dying two or three years from now? Definitely. But the plan right now is to win in 2016.
Also, I was able to confirm that the Red Sox will be signing their first-round pick from this year’s draft, 17-year-old left-handed pitcher Jason Groome, so that probably makes parting with Espinoza a little easier if you’re the Red Sox.