Between Chris Sale and Mitch Moreland, the early returns on the Red Sox’ winter moves have been overwhelmingly positive, even with Tyler Thornburg’s Red Sox debut somewhere a galaxy far away.
Yoan Moncada is raking at Triple-A Charlotte for the White Sox. He’s hitting .314 with a .407 on-base percentage, .569 slugging percentage and four home runs. Michael Kopech has 20 strikeouts and 10 walks in 12 innings at Double-A for Chicago, with a .182 batting average against.
And if any Red Sox fan sits there watching Sale with a tiny tear in their eye for those departed prospects, they’ve officially been deranged by the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
Sale has to stay healthy and effective, of course. But everything the Red Sox wanted Sale to be -- and everything they wanted David Price to be -- he's exceeded through four starts.
Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Moreland has been the 25th most valuable position player in the majors, at 0.7 wins. (Eric Thames of the Brewers, whom the Red Sox heavily scouted but did not go after, is tops at 1.6 wins.)
Moreland could be looking at a lot more than $5.5 million, the amount of his current deal, next winter. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski actually found a bargain, it seems. Don’t tell him, it might upset him.
Sale, unsurprisingly, has been the most valuable pitcher anywhere, at 1.5. The second-place pitcher goes by Thor -- Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, at 1.4.
It’s strange to think that the Thornburg deal, the lesser of Dombrowski’s two trades at the winter meetings, is the one that stings, but it also makes perfect sense.
As another team’s executive pointed out, Dombrowski keeps picking up relievers at their peak value, and it’s not a good idea.
But the fact that Thornburg hasn’t even thrown off a mound yet as he returns from a shoulder impingement is what hurts most. The Red Sox gave up something and have thus far gotten nothing.
Travis Shaw was streaky and had every chance to prove himself for the 2016 Red Sox. He didn’t do it. He already has four home runs for Milwaukee, although his OBP is just .297.
Mauricio Dubon, a shortstop prospect traded in the deal, is off to an okay start at Double-A for the Brewers, hitting .278/.316/.352 with one homer. Righty Josh Pennington is in extended spring training.
Dombrowski also let Koji Uehara walk, but he still has an effective bullpen -- one that’s probably outperforming reality right now but nonetheless carries the fourth lowest ERA in the majors, 2.29.
How do you know everything is turning up Dombrowski right now? He could never build a bullpen in Detroit, and the Tigers still can’t in his absence. They have a 6.85 ERA, the worst in the majors.
Uehara’s allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings for the Cubs, by the way. Junichi Tazawa’s allowed four runs in the same number of innings for the Marlins.