Mitch's Sports Report: One Sale Of A Deal. Red Sox Acquire White Sox Ace In Off-Season Shocker
Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski dropped jaws all across major league baseball yesterday, and exploded hot stoves across New England with the news that he had acquired Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale in exchange for four prospects, including two ranked as among the best potential future stars in the game.
And the dice kept rolling. The Sale deal is the show stopper, but Dombrowski also made a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers to bring that team's closer Tyler Thornburg to Boston in exchange for third baseman Travis Shaw, and he inked Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland to a one year deal.
Red Sox Nation might need to get treated for collective whiplash from all the head spinning that resulted from these deals. Is there risk it could all go horribly wrong for Boston? Sure, but Dombrowski sees a window to win now, and there is no arguing that with Sale in the fold the Red Sox now have a starting rotation that includes two of the most dominant lefties in the game in Sale and Price, and last year's Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello, could very well be the number three starter in that line-up. Assuming knuckleballer Steven Wright recovers from the shoulder soreness that interrupted his excellent season last year, you've got him in the number four slot and then Clay Buchholz and Eddie Rodriguez as potential number five starters. You've got Thornburg setting up Craig Kimbrel to close, plus the potential for a rebounded and healthy Carson Smith as a late innings guy, and all of a sudden, the question marks surrounding the Boston pitching staff are replaced by exclamation points.
Some caveats, of course. Three to four years down the line Dombrowski may watch Yoan Moncada emerge as one of the best five tool players of his generation. His brief foray in Boston last year, in which he struck out multiple times in limited plate appearances, should not be used as an indicator. He was brought up too soon, and his development is not at the stage of fellow Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi, who shined after he was called up from minor league ball. The more troubling part of the Sale deal to me is the loss of fireball pitcher Michael Kopech, who consistently hits 100 mph on the radar gun and has shown pinpoint control to accompany that heat. He could be a major star in the next few years, but "could be" is the key wording. Prospects are just that, with no guarantee they'll pan out down the line. Sale is a bona fide star right now, just 27 years old, and a guy who went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strikeouts for the White Sox last season, and led the majors with 274 strikeouts the year before. And the Red Sox just locked him up for three years and at a relatively friendly $51 Million.
In Thornburg, the Red Sox get a reliever who had a 2.15 ERA for Milwaukee last year and assumed the closer role midway through the season, and now can be an eighth inning bridge to Kimbrel. With Shaw gone, beleaguered third baseman Pablo Sandoval will get another shot at third base, after spending almost all of last season recovering from shoulder surgery. He gets a chance to redeem himself and justify his bloated contract, but even if he continues to be a bust the Red Sox can put a guy like Brock Holt at third base. Shaw performed admirably there but his production at the plate dropped off like Wile E. Coyote going over off a cliff when pitchers figured out he had a penchant for chasing un-hittable high heat. The acquisition of Moreland, who won a gold glove at first base for Texas last year and has decent, if not game changing pop at the plate, means Hanley Ramirez will likely assume the DH duties of departing legend David Ortiz, and the Red Sox won't have to overpay for a free agent like Edward Encarnacion.
Say this for Dombrowski, he has no fear. If the Red Sox don't win at least one world series title while they have Sale under contract and those prospects he gave up go on to become household baseball names, this will forever be an albatross around Dombrowski's neck. But he didn't come to Boston to play it safe, and he's sure made December exciting for baseball in New England, even as the grass at Fenway is getting ready to be blanketed by snow for the next five months.
I would have led with NHL scores if not for Dombrowski's bombshell yesterday, and the St. Louis Blues and Montreal Canadiens did have an entertaining tilt in St. Louis, with the Blues winning in overtime 3-2 on Jaden Schwartz' second goal of the game. Elsewhere the NY Islanders, who have really picked up their play of late after a terrible start, beat the NY Rangers 4-2 behind 36 saves from Jaroslav Halak.
Big win in mens' college hockey for the St. Michael's Purple Knights last night, topping Franklin Pierce 2-1. Eric Salzillo had the game winner for St. Mike's, now unbeaten in its last three games.
In womens' college hoops Middlebury beat Colby-Sawyer 65-44 behind 18 points from Colleen Caveney, who led all scorers. The Norwich Cadets beat Johnson State 61-48, and in mens' hoops Johnson beat Vermont Tech 94-65.