Dave Dombrowski has been a busy man in Boston since his hiring, but that doesn’t mean all the moves he’s been making have been the right one’s.
Last week, it was announced that the Boston Red Sox had dealt top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the San Diego Padres for All-Star starter Drew Pomeranz, straight up. While that may sound like an even trade from the start, especially with the Sox trying to win now and Espinoza only being in Single A at the time of the deal, the present and future ramifications of this deal could be more negative than positive.
Pomeranz owns a career 22-31 record with a 3.66 ERA in stops in Colorado and Oakland before settling in at Petco Park in San Diego.
First off, I don’t think Pomeranz is a bad pitcher at all, but his numbers and All-Star appearance could be a bit fluky. The All-Star game was held in San Diego, and you know Padres fans wanted to see as many of their guys represented as possible. He’s been the best pitcher on a horrible Padres team, and while his 2.47 ERA is the 5th best in the majors, he plays in the biggest ballpark in the MLB. Another factor that could play into his solid numbers is the lack of big time power bats in the NL West.
Outside of Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, who has 23 home runs, there isn’t really a batter who I’m afraid is going to take me deep in the NL. Arenado’s teammate Trevor Story has 22 home runs, but also leads the National League in strikeouts. Jake Lamb is enjoying a nice breakout campaign for the Arizona Diamondbacks with 21 homers, but he’s not a guy who makes me shake in my boots if I’m on the mound.
The #5 pick of the 2010 draft now heads to an AL East division with hitters ballparks and long ball threats of Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, and maybe even the Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria.
The Ole Miss product is enjoying the best year of his career, which isn’t very hard to do considering his past numbers. He’s pitched 102 innings in 2016, which is already the most innings he’s ever pitched in a season. You have to figure his arm is going to get tired pretty soon, perfect timing for a supposed stretch run for the Sox in David Ortiz’s last season. His good fortunes certainly don’t look as though they’ll last, especially with this being his first time being in a serious playoff race.
On the flip side of the deal, the Sox dealt a high ceiling arm in Espinoza, who is Baseball America’s #15 prospect and MLB.com’s #34 prospect. The Venezuela native was the youngest player in the South Atlantic League, and has the look of a frontline arm in the future. Espinoza has been compared to Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, and while that comparison may be a bit of a reach, there’s clear talent and greatness ahead of him.
With a knee-buckling curveball and a fastball that can hit triple digits, Espinoza’s stuff is already good, and will only get better. The most impressive thing about the right hander is that he’s only 18, and he’s already in Single A and while he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his performance (5-8, 4.38 ERA) he’s still only a teenager still learning what works and what doesn’t for him.
Listen, I understand this is Big Papi’s last year and everyone, including myself, wants to see him go out on top. I understand that this is a team looking to win now, and Espinoza is at least three years away from being in the MLB. The fact that the Sox desperately needed an arm is also something I acknowledge. I get that, I really do.
But the Sox just traded a guy with no proven ability to win at the MLB level for a consistent amount of time, for a player who can be great for years upon years to come. Once again, Pomeranz isn’t terrible, but I think his numbers this year are misleading. He’s certainly better than Joe Kelly and Clay Buccholz, both of whom have been in and out of the rotation, but the Red Sox gave up too much for him.
A pair of B-level prospects should have been enough to grab Pomeranz, especially after what they gave up to acquire Brad Ziegler.
The deciding factor as to whether this trade will be a success or failure is if it gets them into the playoffs, which seems to be an uphill climb. The Sox are currently just 1.5 games behind the Orioles for the division lead and are in the first place in the wild card race as the trade deadline draws nearer, but the schedule for the last two months is anything but favorable. A 21-19 team on the road, the Sox play 18 out of 30 games on the road in August, and another 19 away from Fenway in September. And on top of that, they are just starting a stretch in which they play 43 times in 44 days, which should totally be illegal.
We’ll all get our first look at Pomeranz later tonight, and I personally will be in attendance at Fenway. His first task is a tough one against he Giants, but its up to him to make Dave Dombrowski look like the genius we all were told he is.
Cover Photo via BeyondTheBoxScore