Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

With Red Sox, Dombrowski has been shrewd at trade deadline

Alex Reimer
July 17, 2018 - 3:46 pm

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made lots of big moves since joining the organization nearly three years ago. He’s signed David Price to a record-setting $217 million contract, traded for Chris Sale and inked J.D. Martinez to the best big-money free agent contract since Manny Ramirez. In the winter months, Dombrowski has lived up to his “Dealin’ Dave” monicker. 

It’s been a slightly different story at the trade deadline, however. With the Red Sox making major splashes every offseason, Dombrowski opts to tinker with the roster over the summer. Despite some columnists calling for Dombrowski to act recklessly this month, he’ll likely follow a similar path in the coming weeks. At 68-30, the Red Sox don’t have any glaring needs. With one exception, Dombrowski's deadline modus operandi in Boston has been to act shrewdly. He looks for undervalued veteran pieces to complete the roster, because he’s already acquired the superstars to headline it.

With the trade deadline 14 days away, it’s useful to look back at Dombrowski’s history. It’s an indication of how he might improve this year’s team, which owns a rare opportunity to clinch the best record in the American League.

Veteran relief help

July 31, 2017: Red Sox send prospects Stephen Nogosek Gerson Bautista and Jamie Callahan to Mets for Addison Reed.

July 9, 2016: Red Sox send prospects Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe to Diamondbacks for Brad Ziegler.

In both of these instances, the Red Sox traded prospects of modest value for veteran right-handed arms. Ziegler and Reed each pitched high-stress innings for the Red Sox, alleviating some pressure from their less experienced teammates. Ziegler emerged as one of John Farrell’s favorite options in 2016, sporting a 1.52 ERA in 29.2 innings. Reed, meanwhile, only allowed four runs over his last 19 outings.

Once again, it looks like the Red Sox are searching for an additional reliever to help Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes get to Craig Kimbrel. WEEI’s Rob Bradford pegs Padres lefty Brad Hand as a name to look out for.

Versatile veterans to round out lineup

June 29, 2018: Red Sox send prospect Santiago Espinal to Blue Jays for Steve Pearce.

July 26, 2017: Red Sox send prospects Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos to Giants for Eduardo Nunez

July 7, 2016: Red Sox send prospects Wendell Rijo and Aaron Wilkerson to Brewers for Aaron Hill.

The move to acquire Pearce’s right-handed bat is already paying dividends. In Pearce’s first game with the Red Sox, he collected two hits against nemesis C.C. Sabathia, including a double in his first at-bat. The Red Sox acquired Pearce for his prowess against left-handed pitching (.851 career OPS), but he’s been an all-around force so far. He’s hitting .423/.500/.692 in 32 plate appearances, positioning himself as an ideal compliment to Mitch Moreland.

Nunez got off to a similarly torrid start last season, filling in for Dustin Pedroia at second base and also handling DH duties. The veteran infielder hit .321/.353/.539 with eight home runs in Boston. It’s hard to believe now, but Nunez was one of the Red Sox’ best hitters for a stretch last summer. He was an integral part of their playoff run.

Hill wasn’t nearly as good in 2016, splitting his time at various infield positions and only collecting a .577 OPS. 

Though Dombrowski signed Brandon Phillips to a minor-league deal, he could be in the market for an additional infielder to help replace Dustin Pedroia. Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield, who’s batting .307/.378/.434 and played 62 games at second base, could be an option in a similar mold to Hill and Nunez. 

The outlier

July 14, 2016: Red Sox send prospect Anderson Espinoza to Padres for Drew Pomeranz.

In this deal, Dombrowski sent one of the Red Sox’ best prospects, an electric 19-year-old right-hander, to the Padres for a starter who had one good half season under his belt. In other words, Dombrowski lived up to his caricature.

The trade hasn’t worked out. Pomeranz, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, won 17 games in 2017. But that’s where the good news ends. He’s been far less impressive this season, as he’s currently on the DL with a 6.81 ERA. In the second half of 2016, Pomeranz carried a 4.59 ERA in 13 starts.

While Espinoza is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, he wasn’t traded for good value. It would be the equivalent of trading Michael Chavis for Jordan Zimmermann. 

Dombrowski’s deadline history says he *probably* won’t do something like that. He’s more sly in the summer heat. 

Related content:

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