By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Late Friday afternoon, Jon Heyman of fanragsports.com and insider for the MLB Network, tweeted that the Chicago White Sox were at least listening to offers for their pair of aces, Chris Sale and Carlos Quintana. The only team named in his tweet was the Boston Red Sox.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 22, 2016
Sale’s name is nothing new when it comes to rumors surrounding the Red Sox. It was often written about in the off-season, that team president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was interested in the strike throwing southpaw. However, the timing of the latest leaks – not that there should be total buy-in to anything that is said or written just days before the MLB trade deadline – is interesting, seeing that the Sox spent one of their best trading chips recently when they sent Anderson Espinoza to San Diego for Drew Pomeranz.
Espinoza was widely believed to be Boston’s foremost pitching prospect, and the 18-year-old even drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez. That, of course, is lofty praise for any pitching prospect, although it was a view that seemingly many general managers around the league held. So it is easy to understand why some folks supposedly in the know – specifically, 98.5 The Sports Hub Tony Massarotti – rolled their eyes at the deal for the unproven Pomeranz.
It is pretty much a well-known fact that it would take a “king’s ransom,” according to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal on Thursday, to pry Sale away from the White Sox, especially with the sparse starting pitching market. And while the Red Sox still have some prized prospects to deal, would they have not been in a better position – assuming Sale actually gets dealt – to score a co-staff ace, if they held on to Espinoza for another week to 10 days?
Another source says the #WhiteSox were offered a "king's ransom" for Sale in the last 48 hours and responded with a flat "no."
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 21, 2016
History shows that Dombrowski usually does well when it comes to trading for starting pitching. He traded for David Price, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Edwin Jackson, and Anibal Sanchez while he was general manager of the Detroit Tigers. However, in his first trade for a starter with the Sox, might he have jumped the gun?
Keep in mind for a moment, that this is Dombrowski’s first foray into a market like Boston. While he has extensive experience as a general manager – he has had stints in Montreal, Miami and Detroit – he has never had to deal with the pressure that comes with being the guy calling the shots in a town full of folks who think that they could manage the team.
Add to that the fact that the franchise is coming off last place finishes three out of the last four years, and that ownership doubtlessly has given him a mandate to win right away; even the most experienced executive might have felt compelled to make a deal that in retrospect, might not have been the best for his ballclub.
After trading for Pomeranz – who looked more like the lefty version of Clay Buchholz than Sale in his debut on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants at Fenway Park – Dombrowski said that he was likely done making moves before the August 1st deadline. That is the equivalent of a high-stakes gambler staying pat when it their turn to raise at the poker table.
If Sale stays put, and Dombrowski deals for another badly needed bullpen arm, then most Sox fans will be happy with their team president’s performance. However, if the Sale gets dealt and the Red Sox miss out on the 27-year-old who is under team control until 2019, then things could get rough for the newcomer to Boston.
Nothing is sillier than the scene that surrounds Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. It is likely that the words whispered into Heyman’s ears were put there in order to put other teams on notice that they have other players at the table for the talented pitcher.
That being said, if it turns out that Dombrowski can’t deliver the proven ace because he panicked and dealt away one of his most attractive assets for a guy who has had a good three months in the big leagues, watch out.
Hell hath no fury like a Red Sox fan scorned.