Well, Dave Dombrowski can’t be accused of being a liar. He said his main goals this off-season were to sign a top flight starter, acquire a back of the bullpen arm and a complimentary right-handed bat off the bench. Check, check and check.
The Red Sox traded for Craig Kimbrel last month, yesterday signed Chris Young and have agreed to terms with lefty starter David Price. Price’s deal is reportedly for 7 years and $217m or $31m a year and he has an opt-out after the third year.
Price is definitely what the Red Sox needed, a top of the rotation starter. Someone who can eat up 220 quality innings per year. His addition allows the Red Sox to push their existing group of starters back a spot and perhaps consider moving Joe Kelly to the pen as he hasn’t shown anything as a starter and has a power arm. The opt-out clause is interesting as it has been a trend for top talent to ask for the it in hopes of tacking on 3 years or so to their original deal at even higher money. The hope by me is that Price pitches lights out for the first 3 years and then the Red Sox let him walk as he’ll be 33 by then. Because the contract for 7 years and this much money is crazy even in the world of baseball. Face it, if Price doesn’t opt out and/or pitches poorly, this could be a very bad contract for many years to come.
There is no doubting the Red Sox are a far better team now than they were at the end of the 2015 season as they have address very important issues. At the risk of getting way ahead of myself, let me offer this look:
Rotation (Player, ERA+) : David Price: 172, Clay Buchholz: 132, Eduardo Rodriguez: 112, Rick Porcell0: .87 (he is making $20m this year…but his 2nd half, 3.53 ERA, was far better than his first half, 5.90 ERA) and who knows, Wade Miley: 96 or Henry Owens: 94.
Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel: 1.42, Koji Uehara: 194, Junichi Tazawa: 104, ummm, then the wheels fall off a bit as there is a lot of riff-raff to choose from like Robbie Ross, Tommy Layne, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and the list goes on. Dembrowski, will likely want to add to this area.
Line-up (Player, OPS+): Xander Bogaerts: 108, Mookie Betts: 118, Dustin Pedroia: 113, David Ortiz: 141, Hanley Ramirez: 90, Pablo Sandoval: 76 (wow he was terrible last year and has to improve), Rusney Castillo: 73 (he too needs to show us something or else he will be traded), Jackie Bradley: 120 and Blake Swihart: 90 (not bad for a 23 year old rookie catcher).
Bench: Travis Shaw: 115 (great but can he do it again?), Brock Holt: 96, Ryan Hanigan: 81 and Chris Young: 112 (mashed lefties last year).
So all in all there is some promise for this team, the rotation and bullpen could use quality upgrades and the line-up needs to be sorted out but I am happy thus far. I especially like the off-season because Dombrowski hasn’t traded away the major league ready talent, he has kept the young core of positional plans, Betts, Bradley, Swihart and Bogaerts, in place. The idea of building both through the farm and select free agency bets is the best way to build a team in my book. Relying too much on either one can be disastrous.
But let’s not kid ourselves, the Red Sox really need to add depth to the rotation and especially to the bullpen for this team to make a deep push in the postseason.