Today was the official opening day of the baseball winter meetings. Throughout the day a variety of rumors cropped up about teams asking about several Red Sox starters.
Among the teams reportedly inquiring were Seattle ( Joe Kelly, Clay Buchholz, or Wade Miley), Miami (Miley), Texas (Kelly), and the World Champion Royals (Buchholz). Not one of the rumors mentioned who may be targeted by Boston.
As seems to be Dave Dombrowski's style, he moved quickly and completed a trade with one of the rumored teams: Seattle. The Sox sent innings eating lefty starter, Wade Miley along with reliever Jonathan Aro, who made his major league debut in 2015 to the Mariners. The Red Sox received two pitchers: 26 year old righty Carson Smith and 27 year old lefty Roenis Elias.
Smith is the real prize for Boston. He is 6'6" and throws into the mid 90's with a sinking fastball and has a top notch slider. In 2015 he had 92 strikeouts with only 22 walks in 70 innings, in his second big league season. His career ERA is 2.07 and a WHIP of 0.97. He was the Mariners' closer for a part of 2015 and he had 13 saves. Smith should share the seventh inning duty with Junichi Tazawa and certainly should be capable of pitching in the eighth or ninth on any day Koji Uehara and/or Craig Kimbrel are unavailable.
Receiving Carson Smith alone to put another hard thrower in the now rebuilt Boston bullpen may have been an adequate return, but Roenis Elias also could be an useful member of the staff. The Cuban left hander has made 49 big league starts in his two seasons with an ERA of 3.97. Elias has particularly good numbers versus left handed batters leading to the possibility Boston could use him in the bullpen as a lefty specialist. Elias still has options remaining, so being sent to Pawtucket to start as part of the varsity's rotation depth is also an option.
In addition to the talents of the new pair of Red Sox pitchers, with only two years of big league service time, both under team control through 2020. And for the next two seasons they will be pre-arbitration, and therefore inexpensive.
Miley's ability to pitch around 200 innings per season could be missed. but Smith is a much needed bullpen piece (as Elias may be as well) and with any performance that nearly approximates 2015 then Boston could have its much desired lockdown bullpen.
With Miley's exit the Red Sox rotation looks like this:
1. David Price
2. Eduardo Rodriguez
3. Clay Buchholz
4. Rick Porcello
5. Joe Kelly
6. Henry Owens
7. Roenis Elias
8. Stephen Wright
9. Brian Johnson
The three lefties from six to nine likely constitute the front end of the Pawtucket rotation to begin 2016. Wright is now out of options so he would need a bullpen spot in Boston in order to remain as pitching depth.
Again after this trade Dave Dombrowski indicated to the Boston media, he would be content to go into 2016 with the team as is. But there are still be a piece or two of work that could be addressed. Would the Sox package something like Buchholz, JBJ, and a kid or two for a #2 starter like Danny Salazar, Jose Quintana, or Julio Teheran?
And will/can Dombrowski move Hanley Ramirez (or less likely Pablo Sandoval)? In a possible related item to a Ramirez deal, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com reported the Red Sox have been in touch with free agent 1B Mike Napoli. If the Sox could move Hanley, would the Sox pursue a first base platoon of Travis Shaw and Napoli?
Stay tuned to see if Dealer Dave can conjure up another deal or two.