It was only a matter of time.
The Dave Dombrowski Brain Trust made its first strike of the offseason tonight, addressing the Red Sox biggest need by trading away four prospects to San Diego for closer/bullpen monster/freak of nature Craig Kimbrel. Some quick thoughts:
- Kimbrel is a certified stud, and maybe the best closer of the decade. His 225 saves are the most in baseball since 2010 (his first full season), and 27 more than second place Jonathan Papelbon over that span. His 2012 season was preposterous: 42 saves in 45 tries, 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 16.66 K/9, 0.78 FIP. He also offers two years plus an option of team control. Assuming Koji Uehara can come back healthy and Junichi Tazawa can return to form after the wheels came off about halfway through 2015, the Sox are going to have three excellent right-handed options for the end of games next year.
- The trade probably answers the question I posed in my post from earlier today. Obviously anything can happen (a qualifier I think I’ll be using a lot over the next few months), but I think it would be highly unlikely that the Red Sox trade the type of prospects that Cincinnati would be asking for with regards to Aroldis Chapman now that they’ve sent four of their top 30 prospects (per MLB.com) away for Kimbrel. It’s going to be interesting to see if they really push for Darren O’Day now, or pursue someone like Tony Sipp, seeing as the only two real lefty relievers on their 40 man roster are Robbie Ross Jr. and Tommy Layne.
- The Red Sox gave up a lot to bring in Kimbrel, but I don’t think it was too much. 21-year-old outfielder Manuel Margot was the best of the bunch (#25 per MLB.com), but he was the most expendable of Boston’s top prospects. He grades out as a starting centerfielder with blinding speed, excellent defense, and good contact hitting, but the Red Sox are so deep at that position between Mookie Betts (only 23 years old) and last year’s first-round pick Andrew Benintendi (who played so well in his first year in the minors), he could be moved for MLB-ready talent. Javier Guerra (#76) is the other top 100 prospect given up in this trade, but he’s projected as a defense-first shortstop and is blocked by Xander Bogaerts. Carlos Asuaje and Logan Allen round out the group, and they project as a utility infielder and back of the rotation starter, respectively. Again, it’s not like the Red Sox gave up career minor leaguers in this trade, but outside of Margot (and maybe Guerra, depending how high you are on him) they’re really only dealing B-level prospects.
- Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan tweeted that an even larger deal for Padres starter Tyson Ross might also be in the works and that the Kimbrel trade could just be the beginning.
Regardless, it’s pretty clear Dombrowski is going to be living up to his reputation this offseason. I’m as curious as anyone to see what his next move will be.