The Boston Red Sox desperately needed a starting pitcher, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski delivered the goods Thursday by trading for San Diego Padres All-Star Drew Pomeranz.
The move gives Boston a solid No. 4 starter and fills a major void in the back end of the rotation. But the cost was high, as the Red Sox sent highly touted pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to San Diego in return.
So, was trading for Pomeranz a shrewd move that can help Boston make a serious playoff push or a short-sighted gamble on a largely unproven pitcher that could backfire if the 27-year-old left-hander doesn’t pan out?
First, the good news: The Red Sox didn’t have to part with any of their top three prospects — namely infielders Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers and outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Many viewed Espinoza as Boston’s fourth-best prospect, but in a thin pitching market, the asking price around the league was high.
“The same names kept coming up as far as the players we were being asked to trade,” Dombrowski said in a late-night conference call with reporters. “… I’ve had other organizations ask for more than one of our premium guys, depending on the conversations. But I’d also say, and I’m not going to use names, but I’d rather trade three other-type guys than Anderson.”
It appears Espinoza was the middle ground between San Diego and Boston, even if the Red Sox were reluctant to part with an 18-year-old who led the Single-A Greenville Drive in strikeouts as of Thursday. Yet Dombrowski apparently had enough confidence in Boston’s other pitching prospects to pull the trigger.
“We knew that it was a strong price to pay,” Dombrowski said. “We looked at (Espinoza) being a few years away from the major leagues by all means, but he is a young guy that we liked. We are very deep, we think, in quality prospects in the organization, we were able to protect some of our other people.”
The Red Sox’s pitching outlook without Espinoza looks a bit hazy, as older prospects such as Henry Owens and Brian Johnson have yet to pan out. Still, there’s hope for the future — 20-year-old Michael Kopech recently made waves by hitting 105 mph on the radar gun, while the team selected highly touted left-hander Jason Groome in this year’s draft. (Dombrowski would not confirm reports that the team has signed Groome.)
With the Red Sox in the playoff hunt for the first time since 2013, Dombrowski’s decision to part with an unproven prospect for a pitcher who’s delivering results now makes sense. But Pomeranz still is a gamble — he already has pitched a career-high 102 innings this season — and Boston now must hope the move pays off.
“We think (Pomeranz) makes us better now,” Dombrowski added. “We know there’s a sacrifice for the future, but we also think we’re deep enough to be able to cover that up.”
Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images
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