The Red Sox have no excuses now.
Following the team’s flurry of pre-deadline deals, and the relatively quiet activity from their AL East counterparts, the Red Sox now have the best assembly of talent in the division. Dave Dombrowski has done his job, it’s up to the players now.
On July 7, due to either injury or general roster construction, the Red Sox had various holes to plug on their roster. In less than a month, they’ve all been filled.
Dave Dombrowski just confirmed that reports of late-night push & last min talks for Sale were "inaccurate." "Not sure where that came from."
— Tom Caron (@TomCaron) August 2, 2016
“Dealer Dave” got the ball rolling when he acquired Aaron Hill from the Brewers for a pair of minor leaguers to provide additional infield depth. With Brock Holt playing primarily in the outfield, the Sox needed a utility infielder who could be a legitimate offensive threat.
Two days later, Dombrowski filled the team’s need for a right-handed setup man in the bullpen when he acquired Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks, also for a pair of low-level prospects.
Ensuing injuries to Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel thrusted Ziegler into a role far more important than the team anticipated, but Kimbrel’s absurdly quick recovery from knee surgery has allowed the remaining pieces of the bullpen to slot into their appropriate roles.
— Mikel Daves (@mickymikel) July 12, 2016
On July 14, the team made its biggest splash by trading top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for lefty all-star Drew Pomeranz. That, coupled with the performances of Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, and a seemingly rejuvenated Eduardo Rodriguez, has given the Red Sox the best rotation in the division. And if Pomeranz and David Price can pitch to their capabilities, the Red Sox would finally have a rotation that could succeed in October.
Red Sox pitchers have a 3.42 ERA since 7/9. In that time, Boston has received more innings from its starters than any other team (118.1).
— Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes) August 2, 2016
All the Red Sox needed at the deadline was a legitimate left-handed option out of the bullpen. Robbie Ross Jr. has been effective for most of the season, but isn’t exactly a lefty specialist. And after pitching well for much of last season, Tommy Layne has been miserable this year, and was designated for assignment Tuesday morning.
Dombrowski solved the problem by trading hard-throwing but command-deficient prospect Pat Light to the Twins for lefty Fernando Abad hours before the trade deadline.
Abad, 30, owns a 2.65 ERA and 1.21 Whip this season, and has held left-handed hitters to a .163 average this season.
Fernando Abad has 1 pitch of playoff experience. 2014 wild card game for Oakland. Came in and got Alex Gordon to foul out in the 12th inning
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) August 1, 2016
Dombrowski was able to fill virtually every hole on the team by parting with only one blue-chip prospect in Espinoza, although that was surely a difficult pill to swallow. Furthermore, the Red Sox will have Pomeranz under team control through 2019, and Abad through next season.
If there’s one area of the team that could use more finality, it’s in left field. However, with the recent call-up of Andrew Benintendi and the impending return of Chris Young, The Red Sox appear to be comfortable moving forward with a platoon for the position. Brock Holt will likely resume his role as the team’s super utility player, able to fill virtually any position on the diamond.
Dave Dombrowski was asked how reluctant he was to trade Benintendi or Moncada: "Extremely. They're really good."
— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) August 2, 2016
What makes the Red Sox the true winners of the deadline, though, is the failure of the Orioles or Blue Jays to improve their clubs in any significant way. Both clubs were in a position to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, but instead decided to mostly stand pat. No team in this division has been able to run away and hide, which is why improving at the deadline was so important.
The Orioles added Steve Pearce and old friend Wade Miley, neither of which change the landscape of the division by any means. Baltimore’s pitching has actually been worse than Boston’s, and it’s hard to imagine Miley changing that.
The Blue Jays added Melvin Upton Jr. (formerly BJ Upton), and Francisco Liriano, whom the Pirates couldn’t wait to get rid of.
Toronto, in particular, really dropped the ball. In need of both bullpen and rotation help, they opted for adding Liriano and shifting starter Aaron Sanchez, an all-star, to the bullpen.
To their credit, the Yankees may have been the biggest deadline winners in all of baseball, as they rejuvenated their barren farm system by adding multiple top-50 prospects. It won’t get much publicity now, as New York is out of contention and sinking like a stone, but they may look back at this deadline years from now as the moment they turned the franchise around.
Yankees trade deadline recap …https://t.co/8rYJabpQQQ
— The Ringer (@ringer) August 2, 2016
Entering play on Tuesday, the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Red Sox are separated by only a game in the standings. All three have been wildly inconsistent, with the Red Sox in particular seemingly fading and ascending on a week-to-week basis.
No team wants to participate in the Wild Card Play-In game, or have to travel to the vastly-improved Texas Rangers if they happen to win the one-game playoff. Winning the division is paramount, and Dombrowski and the rest of the front office have put the team in the best position to do so.
Now it’s up to the players on the field.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) August 2, 2016