It’s no secret what the Red Sox achilles heel has been throughout the first half of the 2016 season. Pitching, pitching, and pitching. Their starting pitching staff has a 4.72 ERA, the 12th worst in the MLB. While their bullpen has been better, it is still not great with an ERA in the high 3’s. But with the likes of Tazawa, Koji, and Kimbrel pitching out of the ‘pen in the first half of the season, you’d expect that to be a lot lower. President of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, addressed the bullpen by acquiring Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks; a necessary move after Craig Kimbrel went to the DL with a torn meniscus. But the big issue for the 49-38 Red Sox—starting pitching—was just addressed by Dombrowski earlier today.
The Red Sox acquired starting pitcher, Drew Pomeranz, from the San Diego Padres to help mend their broken rotation. This will give them a reliable fourth option after Price, Wright, and Porcello. Pomeranz has had his best season of his 5-year career so far, posting a 2.47 ERA throughout his first 17 starts of the 2016 season. The trade seems like a no brainer since the Red Sox were in such need of a starter to make a playoff push and beyond, but let’s address some of the cons.
The first, and most obvious problem with this trade for the Red Sox, is letting go of their number 1 pitching prospect. In order to receive Pomeranz, Dombrowski parted ways with 18-year-old, Anderson Espinoza. Espinoza was a diamond in the rough within the Sox farm system because they really don’t have many up and coming arms will help them in the near future. Henry Owens, the Sox former top pitching prospect, hasn’t worked out in his big league appearances, and their AAA and AA pitching staffs have been less than impressive this season. So letting go of Espinoza could be detrimental to their future. But there’s a silver lining to this. 2016 first round draft pick, Jason Groome, signed with the Red Sox shortly after the trade for Pomeranz was announced. The 17-year-old LHP has drawn comparisons to the likes of Clayton Kershaw; not a bad guy to have in your organization. Though you never like to give up your top prospects, especially when the pitching in the farm system is so poor, Red Sox fans can take comfort in knowing that while Espinoza is packing his belongings, their new future is on his way in. Besides, the Red Sox have such a great young core of position players that it doesn’t make sense to wait 2-3 years to develop a young pitcher when Bogaerts, Betts, and Bradley could be on their way out. Their offense is too good to not be in “win now” mode. And Pomeranz is signed through 2018, which means he will remain with the team during the Bogearts, Betts, Bradley reign in Boston, if they don’t all resign.
What concerns me about this trade the most is where Pomeranz is coming from—San Diego. San Diego is not Boston. In fact it is far from it. We’ve seen it with so many players in the past and talk about it every time somebody who has had success elsewhere comes to Boston. The pressure of playing in this city is just too much for some players. Pomeranz has been somewhat of a nomad throughout his career. He’s been traded four times now, starting his career getting drafted by the Indians before getting traded to Colorado and then Oakland. These are all small market baseball towns. Boston is a whole new animal for Pomeranz to face, and this is the first season he’s been showing success. That may be just because he’s found a comfort level in San Diego that he hasn’t felt elsewhere. Only time will tell, but that is always a concern when players change teams and call Fenway their new home.
Overall I like this trade. Something needed to be done about the starting rotation. The Red Sox now have four reliable starters. They’re currently a wild card team but only two games back of the Orioles in the AL East, and in the playoffs, all you need is four reliable starters. With this move I have a lot of confidence in the Red Sox. Many people have considered them a playoff team all season long, but haven’t taken them as a serious threat in the AL because of their starting pitching woes. Now that Pomeranz has joined the rotation, the Boston Red Sox may just be able to make a splash and win a pennant, if not more. If you’re a fan of this team you should be excited to see what the second half of the season brings.