Let's play a quick game. I am going to put down two projection lines for two pitchers in the AL for 2016. The stats are from Baseball Reference.
9-10 | 4.27 ERA | 177 IP | 145 K | 1.362 WHIP | 7.4 K/9
7-9 | 4.02 ERA | 132 IP | 115 K | 1.303 WHIP | 7.8 K/9
Pitcher A is Wade Miley. Pitcher B is Roenas Elias. And this is why yesterday's deal may have been a steal for Boston.
I am not going to deny that I was hoping Miley would stay in Boston. He was the only free agent Boston signed last year to give the Sox exactly what they expected. He was a solid back-end starter who ate up innings. The only reason Boston's bullpen didn't completely burn out last year was that Miley averaged six innings a start.
But that also made Miley a valuable trade chip. He's cheap money for the next two years, reliable and under 30. So to flip Miley to Seattle for Carson Smith made a lot of sense.
Carson Smith has the potential to give Boston a 1-2 punch for the next three years like the Yankees had with Betances and Miller. Last year Smith posted a 2.31 ERA, 13 saves, 22 holds and a 1.01 WHIP while striking out 90 batters over 70 innings. And while that may not be how Boston starts the year (I can't see them kicking Uehara back as a 6th/7th inning guy yet) don't be surprised if it happens by mid-season.
But Elias as a throw-in makes this deal a possible steal for Boston. A lefty like Miley, he is two years younger and gives you similar production. So what has Boston really lost in this deal? Jonathan Aro? I don't think we'll miss him. In essence, Seattle pretty much just gave Boston Carson Smith.
Never mind that Smith is controllable for five years and Elias for four. That's the icing on the cake. But now Boston has one of the strongest bullpens in the majors to go along with a new ace. Pitching was the weak spot for Boston last year. Their defense was league average and offensively they ended fourth in the AL in runs scored. Now with an upgraded pen and strengthened rotation, Boston becomes a very dangerous team.
Dombrowski may not be done yet. It's not inconceivable that Boston trades for a second starter, though the cost would likely be prohibitive. But even in this is where he stops the wheeling and dealing, no one can deny that Dombrowski has made the Sox stronger heading into 2016 at a relatively low cost.