Red Sox

Three deals that illustrate where Dave Dombrowski ultimately went wrong in eyes of Red Sox ownership

Three deals that illustrate where Dave Dombrowski ultimately went wrong in eyes of Red Sox ownership

Here's the thing about Dave Dombrowski's "worst" deals -- they almost always landed impact players.

When he overpaid for closer Craig Kimbrel, in his first major acquisition as Red Sox president of baseball operations, he still landed an All-Star. When he took the David Price bidding into the stratosphere in what became the highest contract ever given to a pitcher, he still landed the de facto 2018 postseason MVP. When he surrendered promising left-hander Jalen Beeks to the Rays, he still landed eventual playoff hero Nathan Eovaldi.

But those deals still took a toll on the long-term health of the organization, and it's worth exploring how they came to be viewed by ownership as signals that Dombrowski wasn't the right man to lead the baseball operation moving forward, which is why he was fired on Sunday night.

Start with Kimbrel. Dombrowski acquired the All-Star closer from the Padres on Nov. 13, 2015, by making what became his signature -- the offer you can't refuse. The trade created a ripple of uneasiness across a front office that had grown accustomed to the hoarding of prospects by predecessor Ben Cherington, even as it recognized the need to ease up on the reins.

At issue: the centerpieces of the trade -- outfielder Manuel Margot and infielder Javier Guerra -- represented a fair price on their own to acquire the disgruntled closer, who hadn't thrived in San Diego after five years of dominance in Atlanta. Each was a consensus top-60 prospect, with Baseball Prospectus ranking Margot 14th following the 2015 season.
Dombrowski is a man of action, however, and he wanted the deal done, so he sweetened the pot with left-hander Logan Allen, a teenager who had just posted a 1.11 ERA in his pro debut while walking only one batter in 24.1 innings.

While Kimbrel certainly produced in Boston, making three All-Star teams and saving more than 100 games, the loss of Allen proved costly this July when the Indians made him a central figure in the three-way trade that sent right-hander Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, top prospect Taylor Trammell to the Padres, and Allen and slugger Franmil Reyes to the Tribe.

Allen debuted this season at 22 and is exactly the kind of cost-controlled piece the Red Sox could use to augment a rotation that's underperforming and overpaid.

Speaking of the rotation, Dombrowski has committed more than $400 million to three giant question marks -- Price, Chris Sale, and Eovaldi. When the Red Sox signed Price for a record $217 million a month after acquiring Kimbrel, they didn't just surpass the next-highest offer, they obliterated it. The runner-up Cardinals reportedly offered Price a seven-year deal in the $175 million range. The Red Sox blew that number out of the water to overcome whatever misgivings Price may have harbored about pitching in Boston, which probably should've been a red flag. As the Globe's Alex Speier noted, they effectively bid against themselves. Now his contract looks unmovable.

Then there's Eovaldi. This was an under-the-radar moment, but many in the organization felt he could be acquired without surrendering Beeks, a hard-throwing left-hander who had impressed in an emergency start against Team USA before the 2017 World Baseball Classic, when he struck out Christian Yelich and Adam Jones in two scoreless innings.

Beeks had a number of advocates on the player development side who recognized his potential to develop into a big league starter, especially after he overhauled his arsenal to feature a 95 mph four-seam fastball and cutter.

It's easy to look at that deal and say, "Eovaldi was instrumental in winning a World Series. Who cares that you gave up Jalen Beeks?" But what if the Red Sox could've acquired Eovaldi for a lesser prospect -- and with Eovaldi coming off yet another arm surgery, his market wasn't exactly robust -- and kept Beeks?

He'd be another depth option in an organization that badly needs it. Instead, he has emerged as a key multi-inning arm in Kevin Cash's bullpen, with an 11-3 record since arriving in Tampa.

The same can be said of Giants right-hander Shaun Anderson, a 2016 third-round pick shipped to San Francisco in 2017 for Eduardo Nunez. Anderson has made 16 starts in the big leagues (albeit with a 5.22 ERA) and owns a higher ceiling than the pitchers the Red Sox were forced to throw in the 4-5 spots of the rotation this season.

Meanwhile, how much could the bullpen use someone like Ty Buttrey? The 6-foot-6 right-hander had some command issues early in his minor league career, but since going to the Angels last July for second baseman Ian Kinsler, has averaged nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings while posting a 3.90 ERA. That's a solid setup man in exchange for a second-base rental.

In each case, there was apprehension within the organization that Dombrowski was overpaying. That's tolerable when the farm system is loaded, but it's not sustainable, which is why the Red Sox suddenly find themselves in the market for a new GM.

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MLB Rumors: Yankees prepared to offer Gerrit Cole record-setting deal

MLB Rumors: Yankees prepared to offer Gerrit Cole record-setting deal

Brace yourselves, Red Sox fans. The New York Yankees appear to be all-in on Gerrit Cole.

Cole, the premier free-agent pitcher on the market, is the Yankees' top offseason priority according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Passan notes ownership has given the go-ahead to offer the right-hander a record-setting deal.

If the Yankees hope to sign Cole, however, they'll have to win a bidding war against both Los Angeles clubs.

Passan writes:

New York and the Los Angeles Angels, a team similarly smitten with Cole and in even greater need of pitching than the Yankees, are preparing for a bidding war that executives expect will reach well beyond $250 million, according to sources. The Los Angeles Dodgers' interest in Cole is acute as well, though they are also considering bids for right-hander Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, sources said.

So yeah, Cole is going to make a pretty penny. And it's well-deserved. The 29-year-old went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA last season for the Houston Astros and finished as the runner-up for the American League Cy Young award.

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Ex-Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon thanks fans, organization in heartfelt post

Ex-Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon thanks fans, organization in heartfelt post

The Sandy Leon era in Boston is over, but the catcher clearly is thankful for the five years he spent with the Red Sox.

Leon, who was traded to the Cleveland Indians on Monday for a minor league pitcher, posted a message on Instagram thanking Red Sox fans and the organization.

Here's what he wrote:

Today, I thank God for everything he allowed me to live these past five years. They were filled with unimaginable joy for me and my family. I want to thank the @redsox for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their organization. You were an extended family during that time. Thank you for being a part of my career. I will live in appreciation of the team. I also want to thank the Boston fans. You guys are the best! Thank you for every encouraging word during each game. Thank you for showing what true passion for a club is. Today, I am convinced that everything I learned and lived during my time with the @redsox will be fundamental for whatever God has in store for me with the @indians Thank you Red Sox and Red Sox fans. Eternally grateful. 🙌🏻

Check out the post below:

View this post on Instagram

Hoy quiero darle gracias a Dios por todo lo que me ha permitido vivir en estos últimos 5 años, los cuales han sido llenos de cosas inimaginables para mi familia y para mi. Quiero darle gracias a los @redsox por haberme dado la oportunidad de ser parte de su organización. Fueron como una familia extendida. Les agradezco haber sido parte de mi carrera. Viviré agradecido de ustedes. También quiero dar gracias muy especiales a los fanáticos de Boston ¡SON LOS MEJORES! Gracias por cada palabra de aliento en cada partido. Gracias por mostrarme cómo se puede amar a un equipo. Hoy estoy convencido que todo lo aprendido y vivido en los @redsox será fundamental para lo que Dios me permita vivir en los próximos años con los @indians GRACIAS POR TODO @redsox GRACIAS REDSOX FANS. Eternamente agradecido. 🙌🏻🙌🏻 • • • Today, I thank God for everything he allowed me to live these past five years. They were filled with unimaginable joy for me and my family. I want to thank the @redsox for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their organization. You were an extended family during that time. Thank you for being a part of my career. I will live in appreciation of the team. I also want to thank the Boston fans. You guys are the best! Thank you for every encouraging word during each game. Thank you for showing what true passion for a club is. Today, I am convinced that everything I learned and lived during my time with the @redsox will be fundamental for whatever God has in store for me with the @indians Thank you Red Sox and Red Sox fans. Eternally grateful. 🙌🏻

A post shared by Sandy Leon (@sandyleon41) on

Leon didn't exactly strike fear in opposing pitchers during his time in Boston, but he did serve as a trusted battery mate for several Red Sox pitchers. Chris Sale and Rick Porcello, in particular, preferred the Venezuela native as their go-to backstop.

With Leon off the roster, that leaves Christian Vazquez as the lone catcher currently on the Red Sox depth chart.

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