By: Nick Galle
As you have all probably heard, the Boston Red Sox have acquired ace Chris Sale, setup pitcher Tyler Thornburg, and 1B/DH Mitch Moreland, during this week’s winter meetings. There was no holding back as the Red Sox made the blockbuster deal for Chris Sale during the afternoon of December 6th after acquring Tyler Thornburg earlier in the day, and Mitch Moreland a few hours later.
These deals did not come without loss though, as the farm took some critical losses. The deal for Sale included Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, two of baseball’s finest prospects, two key parts to the Red Sox organization. For Tyler Thornburg, the Sox send Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington to the Brewers, as well as a player to be named later or cash considerations. Mitch Moreland on the other hand, agreed to a one-year $5.5 million dollar contract and will likely help fill the void David Ortiz has left with his retirement this past fall.
Let’s first take a look at Tyler Thornburg. The right handed pitcher posted a 2.15 ERA last season, striking out 90 through just 67 innings of work. With 13 saves and 20 holds, Thornburg will certainly fit nicely in a bullpen that already has Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes. With the addition of Thornburg, the Sox have created a bullpen that has numerous hard-throwing, late innings options. Thornburg is a great addition to a bullpen we did see struggle at times during the season. With only 38 hits allowed through his 67 IP, look for him to be a lock down guy to go to late in games. With so many options as setup pitchers as of now, this Red Sox team has the potential to be great. Not to mention with Pablo Sandoval looking in much better shape, the loss of Travis Shaw should not be a huge concern for Sox fans. The prospects can go either way, but as of now, the Red Sox have appeared to get the better half of this trade with Milwaukee.
One deal that has been flying under the radar has been the signing of Mitch Moreland. Boston signed the former Texas Ranger to a one-year, $5.5 million dollar deal. Last season, Moreland hit a mediocre .233 through 460 at-bats, but showed power with his 22 HR and 60 RBI. In the 2015 season, Moreland had a good year, posting a .278 average with 23 HR and 85 RBI, while playing in 132 games, 15 less than last season. The former Texas Ranger could be compared to a player such as Mike Napoli, as Moreland has struck out 220 times over the past two seasons, but clearly, he has a surge of power. With a short wall in right, look for Moreland to use that to his advantage, as the lefty batter hit .305 last season with 10 HR and 31 RBI when pulling the ball into right field. With the signing of the DH/1B, the Sox have two options as to where he will play. They can put him at first, moving Hanley to the DH slot, the likelier of the two options. If they don’t go this route, they can put Moreland in the DH spot, while keeping Ramirez at first. Regardless of where he plays, Moreland will be a nice fit in Boston as a role player for the upcoming season.
Last, but certainly not least, Chris Sale. There is no doubt about it, Chris Sale is an elite pitcher. Last year with Chicago the lefty went 17-10 with 233 strikeouts in 226.2 innings. With an ERA of 3.34 and opponent average of just .227, Sale adds great depth to this starting rotation. At just 27 years old, Sale has already recorded 74 wins with 1244 strikeouts, while maintaining an ERA of 3.00 through 1110 IP. What should Sox fans be most excited about? Chris Sale is amazing against the New York Yankees. Sale’s ERA against the Yankees is an all-time low of 1.17, which is the best ERA all-time with a minimum of 50 IP against New York. Another thing to note is that when the offense got Sale 6+ runs, he went 10-1. When scoring under six runs, Sale was 7-9. The Red Sox offense needs to produce run support, and if they do, look for Sale to post great numbers. With the addition of the talented lefty, the Opening Day starter is really up in the air at this point. David Price, Chris Sale, and the Cy-Young version of Rick Porcello are three amazing arms, but who do you go with? Price probably will not be the Opening Day starter, leaving Porcello and Sale to battle it out. With Boston opening up the season against Pittsburgh, look for Porcello to get the nod with Sale being a strong, strong number two option. Then again, Chris Sale is Chris Sale, making it a decision that the Sox coaching staff will just have to figure out.
Regardless of who starts game 1, this Red Sox team is well improved. Dombrowski has shown that he is not afraid to make blockbuster deals. Red Sox Nation is rejoicing with joy after the huge Sale trade, as they should be. Chris Sale will be great in this rotation, no doubt about it. Moreland and Thornburg are nice role players as well who will likely make positive contributions to this year’s team. As of now, Red Sox fans will just have to wait until April 3rd, when the 2017 season kicks off, a season that may be a special one.
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