In their last three series, the Boston Red Sox split four games with the Minnesota Twins, got swept by the Detroit Tigers and have already lost two of three versus the Los Angeles Angels, with the series wrapping up Sunday afternoon. In their last nine games, the recently first place Red Sox have only won two and have fallen into third in the AL East. They are barely holding onto the second Wild Card spot, by a mere one game over the Tigers.
Will Red Sox Struggles Force Dombrowski’s Hand?
President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski tried to be preemptive by sending top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the San Diego Padres for All-Star Drew Pomeranz. In his three starts since becoming a Red Sox, Pomeranz has struggled, posting an 0-2 record with an ERA over seven. A once promising season is beginning to look bleak. If the Red Sox don’t start winning again, Dombrowski may trade an even bigger prospect than Espinoza. The question looms large: will Red Sox struggles force Dombrowski’s hand?
Starting pitching is clearly Boston’s biggest issue, they are 8-33 when the don’t manage to score five or more runs and their starters ERA is the sixth worst in the AL at 4.37. Acquiring a starter shouldn’t even be necessary, but only Steven Wright and Rick Porcello are pitching consistently well this season. When David Price has pitched well, he has received little run support. Price has also had far too many bad games this season, and Eduardo Rodriguez has also not been good after a knee injury sidelined him to begin the campaign.
It is too late to see if Price, Rodriguez, and Pomeranz will pitch up to their capabilities, and another move could be made to bolster the staff. An unforeseeable consequence of their swap for Pomeranz is that now if Boston decides to inquire about other top arms, the price will be a top prospect of the same caliber or higher than Espinoza. As evidenced by his time with the Miami Marlins and Tigers, Dombrowski isn’t afraid to make big trades. If he deals Yoan Moncada or Andrew Benintendi, two of the best prospects in all of baseball, Dombrowski could be jeopardizing the future for a perceived run in 2016.
The deadline is less here, and the poor play of the Red Sox isn’t making Dombrowski’s decision on another trade easy. Neither are the moves that other contenders are making. The Chicago Cubs just traded for Aroldis Chapman, the Washington Nationals acquired Mark Melancon, and the Cleveland Indians just ponied up for Jonathan Lucroy and Andrew Miller, though Lucroy vetoed his trade. Three first place teams giving up big time prospects to make a run in 2016, the gap between Boston and the other top contenders just widened somewhat significantly.
The returns of Craig Kimbrel and Chris Young and the early acquisitions of Aaron Hill and Pomeranz look awfully like inadequate additions compared to what is going on around MLB. Boston’s offense is the best in the AL, but they can’t score five or more runs every game. The pitching needs to do its part or another trade is inevitable. As currently constituted it, would be hard to see Boston making a deep run into the playoffs even if they manage to hold onto a playoff spot.
A trade for someone like Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, or Julio Tehran could put them over the top. But by losing the players they would have to ship out to acquire a Sale, a move of that caliber could also lead to a worse team in 2017 and beyond. Even pulling the trigger on a big trade could conceivably still not put them ahead of teams like the Indians, Texas Rangers, and Cubs. The Red Sox are in a tough spot and time is running out on new boss Dave Dombrowski to make a decision.
BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 24: Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations, left, and Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, address the media during a press conference to announce Hazen’s promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)