While the Orioles are at the winter meetings negotiating with Mark Trumbo and coming up with reasons that real outfielders are too expensive to sign or trade for, the AL East champion Red Sox are there making bold moves to try to take their team to the next level. Fox’s Ken Rosenthal was first to report on Tuesday that Chris Sale has been traded from the White Sox to the Red Sox.
Going into the day, the favorites to land Sale seemed to be the Nationals. The Red Sox emerged quickly and then struck almost as quickly to pull off the deal. I never thought I’d be rooting for the Nationals to do anything other than fail hilariously, but here was one time. Better to have Sale in the NL East than the AL East. Alas.
Of course the trade comes at a cost for Boston. They’re sending four players to Chicago, including MLB.com’s #1 overall prospect in baseball, Yoan Moncada, as well as the #67 prospect, righty starter Michael Kopech. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that Kopech has thrown 105 miles per hour. My sources tell me that is a lot of miles per hour.
The other two prospects are outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and right-handed pitcher Victor Diaz. The Red Sox have now traded Basabe and his twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe (not a joke) in the span of five months.
In return, Boston will get to have three years of Sale for a total cost of $38 million in salary. For a pitcher who’s started 30+ games in four of the past five seasons, topped 200 innings pitched in three out of five seasons, and has a 3.04 ERA in all that time, well, that’s peanuts for MLB’s pre-eminent throwback jersey-slashing pitcher.
Sale will now sit near the top of a rotation that also includes the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello, as well as $217 million man David Price. Both of these gentlemen were on the 2014 Tigers team that lost to the Orioles in the ALDS. Former Orioles prospect Eduardo Rodriguez - also a lefty - will probably also be in that rotation, and so might lefty Drew Pomeranz.
That’s bad news for the Orioles since they were the worst-hitting team against left-handed pitching this past season. They’re signalling that they won’t try to address that in any meaningful way. And now pretty much every time they face Boston they’re going to get battered with lefty after lefty pitcher. Good luck with that.
Aside from being at a disadvantage in the head-to-head matchups against Boston, there’s just the fact that the Red Sox figure to be really good against everybody. They underachieved for a lot of the 2016 season before lighting on fire towards the end and ultimately taking the AL East by four games.
With basically every key piece of their team returning other than the Vandal, David Ortiz, the Red Sox are going to be the favorites to repeat. That’s a ridiculous rotation and it’s a ridiculous lineup too, one that just scored 878 runs.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are over here trying to talk about how Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley are poised for bounce-back seasons and bumbling around apparently trying to re-sign Mark Trumbo instead of getting a real right fielder, which literally everyone, including the Orioles themselves, knows that they need. Just a little bit of a gap between these two teams on paper.
The best that Orioles fans can hope for is that the Red Sox somehow fail unexpectedly despite all of this talent, like they did in the 2012, 2014, and 2015 seasons, and that the O’s succeed unexpectedly in spite of their apparent faults, as they have done in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 seasons. Which doesn’t sound too bad when I put it that way, but I wouldn’t want to bet on this happening.
Good grief, you guys. The Red Sox just traded for Chris Sale. Boston sports fans lead a charmed life that not a single one of them deserves.