Saturday, November 14, 2015

Kimbrel Deal Shows Dombrowski Means Business

It was just yesterday morning when I posted a piece talking about whom the Sox were most likely to move in any deal. Two of the three names in the minor league system were Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra.

Less than twelve hours after that, the Sox included Margot and Guerra in a four-player swap for Padres closer Craig Kimbrel. Also included in the deal were lefty Logan Allen and infielder Carlos Asuaje.

There is no sugar-coating that the Sox paid a heavy price for Kimbrel. Margot, Guerra and Allen were all top-20 prospects in the Boston system, Margot and Guerra top-10. But Dombrowski made clear that there were no sacred cows in the minor-league system. He drafted none of these kids, which makes him quite capable of moving them on for what he sees as a good deal.

And you can't argue against Kimbrel being a great pickup. Only 27 years of age, he already has 225 saves. A four-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year, he led the NL in saves four out of his five seasons and is a two-time Sporting News Pitcher of the Year. His fastball velocity has remained constant or improved his entire career. He is also under Boston's control for the next three years. Most importantly, he instantly improves a bullpen in Boston that was a disaster last year.

But I'd be lying if I said that moving some of these guys doesn't hurt. Margot especially; I watched him in Portland and you can tell he is going to be a good big leaguer. But the old saw that "You have to give talent to get talent" exists for a reason; because it's true.

Now, was it too high of a price? That depends on who you ask. Some people think it barely hurts at all. Others feel the pain is a little more palpable. Which I think reflects how Boston fans have viewed their minor-league system over recent years.

We love our prospects around here. We think Boston's minor-leaguers are the best in baseball. And it doesn't hurt that year-in and year-out that their system is consistently ranked among the best in baseball. We think they are worth their weight in gold and can't conceive moving any of them for less that the best possible players in the game today. And when you consider players like Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jose Iglesias, Anthony Rizzo, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart and others, you can understand why.

But we tend to forget or gloss over the misses. Names like Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront. All those guys were top prospects who were so hyped in the minors they could have been dealt for major-league talent. Instead, they came into the majors and kind of fell apart.

So it could be that Margot, Guerra and the rest turn out to be amazing players. Or they could be busts; only Margot has played at AA level or higher. I think Margot could be a very good player, but who knows?

Boston may have overpaid in this deal. Or maybe they underpaid. That won't be known for a few years. What we do know today for sure is that Boston now has one of the best closers in baseball for at least the next three years. That their bullpen is a lot better than it was 24 hours ago. And that Dombrowski is serious about turning the Red Sox around in 2016.

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