Chris Sale, whose delivery is reminiscent of a cyclone tearing through a tetherball pole made out of Chick-O-Stix, is on the Red Sox now. That means he’s in a rotation that’s combined for 11 Cy Young vote finishes, two Cy Young awards, and 14 All-Star appearances since 2010. They have two of the top-five Cy Young finishers from each of the past two seasons, including the only guy to be there in both.
This is probably a good thing for the ol’ Boston Red Sox.
It’s also a stunningly good thing for the Chicago White Sox, who turned one of the best pitchers in baseball, on one of the most team-friendly contracts, into one of the best prospects in baseball, if not the best prospect. Anything less would have been a disappointment. This is the best, only way to take the sting out of trading a popular All-Star player. This is a return they can be proud of. It’s a return White Sox fans can take solace in.
But we’ve talked about the White Sox enough. They didn’t need to trade Sale, and there was an argument for reloading around him, but at least they got a prospect talented enough to win the MVP one day. And Yoan Moncada will be in the majors next year, which will give everyone something to enjoy. That’s how you let the fans down easy.
We’re here to talk about the Red Sox, who are being reshaped and chiseled by Dave Dombrowski, which is what we should have expected the second he took over an organization that was saturated with prospects. He’s been one of the most aggressive architects in baseball history when it’s come to premium prospects, and it got the Marlins a World Series and the Tigers a pennant.
It’s also one of the reasons the Tigers are shopping Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and everyone who isn’t nailed down, but focus on the World Series and the pennant.
We know the following about the Red Sox:
Their starting pitching is absurd now
Here’s a fun game: Pick the fourth and fifth starters behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price. Before you start, realize that the Red Sox have the reigning Cy Young winner, and he’s probably the third-best pitcher on the team.
Steven Wright is probably a gimme, considering he was an All-Star who missed the postseason only because of a freak injury.
Eduardo Rodriguez is the future, a left-handed youngster with room to grow.
Drew Pomeranz struggled a bit with the American League, but he was an All-Star last year, and the Red Sox gave up one of their best pitching prospects for him specifically because they envisioned him in the rotation for a long time.
Clay Buchholz rediscovered his form in the bullpen, and he took it back to the rotation when the situation required it. He’ll make $13.5 million this year, and he should probably get a chance to start somewhere in this market.
Henry Owens is still well regarded-ish. Brian Johnson is still about to Sox, and he salutes you.
Really, the Red Sox are this year’s Dodgers, with starters that go nine deep, with the exception that they’ve built a rotation that’s already top-heavy. They shouldn’t have to wonder who’s starting their postseason games, and they aren’t punting a huge roster decision to July.
If they’re aggressive with just one of those four starting pitchers, they could fill yet another hole at the major league level. This isn’t the end of the Red Winter Meetings. This is but a beginning.
These pitchers look like they’ll be around for a long time
Those would be:
- David Price, six years remaining, $188 million (opt-out after 2018)
- Rick Porcello, three years, $62.4 million
- Chris Sale, three years, $38 million (including option years)
- Steven Wright, under team control through 2020
- Drew Pomeranz, under team control through 2018
- All of the minor leaguers, under control for at least six years
For the next two years, they should have Price, Porcello, and Sale in their primes. The year after that, they should still have at least two of them, bolstered with younger, cheaper pitchers around them.
And if they need to make a move, the rotation averages something less than Ian Kennedy or Yovani Gallardo money. Don’t forget all the youth around the diamond, too, which will allow them to spend, spend, spend for a few years. As if the Red Sox needed help.
We’ve said this about rotations before
The Giants in 2010: It’s a good thing we have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain for years. Takes a lot of the guesswork out of the rotation.
The Phillies in 2011: Pretty sure Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels are going to be good for at least three championships, if we’re being realistic.
The Reds in 2012: Homer Bailey and Mat Latos are going to be here for years. Just need to lock Johnny Cueto up.
The Braves in 2013: Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, and Julio Teheran are the foundation of something special. Just wait until Brandon Beachy comes back.
The Nationals in 2014: Doug Fister gives this team a super-rotation that will stay together forever. Probably.
The White Sox in 2015: We have Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. You don’t.
Super-rotations are fun, so very fun, in the winter. They can be that fun in the regular season, too, just ask the Cubs and Indians. But the thing about super-rotations is that they’re filled with pitchers, and those guys are just the worst. They get older. They break down. They ail, they fade, they lose their mechanics.
Which isn’t to say the Red Sox shouldn’t be happy with their rotation. They have a triumvirate that could finish 1-2-3 in the Cy Young voting next year without it seeming too odd at all. It’s just that as soon as you’re used to it, baseball is probably going to happen. And baseball is kind of a sociopath.
That’s why the decision to trade Moncada can’t be taken lightly. He was the post-Pedroia future at second, unless he was the post-Pablo future at third, unless ... well, that’s the thing about a golden Swiss Army knife. You get to use it however you need, and there’s a not-inconsequential chance that this one turns into Kris Bryant. The Red Sox are chasing the present, and they should.
But there’s at least a fair chance that in two years, they’ll be the ones with the milk cow, gazing in abject envy at the glorious beanstalk that extends into the clouds.
The Blue Jays signed Steve Pearce away from the Orioles
This has been your tour around the rest of the AL East. Please check back soon for updates.
The Red Sox were already the favorites in the division before this move, and now they have Chris Sale. He throws like an Ent who fell down while water skiing but won’t let go of the rope, and he’s one of the very best pitchers in baseball. The pitch get pitcher, and the Red Sox can probably start planning their offseason parade.
Just don’t look at what happened to the last Red Sox team to throw an offseason parade.
The 2011 Red Sox could accomplish a feat that has never been done. They could unseat the 1927 Yankees as the greatest major league team of all time.
No, just focus on the rotation and the talent in the lineup supporting it. It’s absurd. It’s young. It’s built for 2017. Good luck, American League. Good luck.