So far, Dave Dombrowski is winning the Major League Baseball offseason.
He’s got some competition. Like the Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, who put the NL West on notice after stealing Zack Greinke from the Los Angeles Dodgers and giving up a whole heck of a lot to acquire 25-year-old starter Shelby Miller. The Diamondbacks are going for it right now. And their fans should be happy with that.
Also getting consideration is Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs. They may have paid big bucks for a soon-to-be 35-year-old second baseman/outfielder in Ben Zobrist, but they won’t regret giving John Lackey $16 million a season for the next two years, considering what the market is for a quality starting pitcher these days.
Just ask Dombrowski and the Red Sox, who signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million deal last week. You already know how I feel about that signing. I love it. Combined with the trade for one of the best — if not the best — closers in baseball in Craig Kimbrel, Dombrowski could probably have no-showed the Winter Meetings in Nashville this week and would still be the offseason champ.
But he wasn’t done there. He then sent Wade Miley to Seattle in a trade that brought in 26-year-old righty reliever Carson Smith from the Mariners. Throwing a sinking fastball that can hit 95 mph, with a nasty slider at 85, Smith just finished his first full MLB season with a 2.31 ERA in 70 innings out of the bullpen. And he’s also under team control through the 2020 season.
Whether or not Dombrowski stops there, remains to be seen. But as the Winter Meetings wrapped up on Thursday, one thing is for sure: the Red Sox have attacked their positions of need this offseason.
Will it be enough to make them a title contender?
Nope, I’m not talking about the division. The additions of Price and Kimbrel should alone be good enough to make September baseball meaningful in this town once again.
I’m talking World Series.
Here’s what we know. The blueprint to having success in the postseason is showcasing at least two above-average starters. Just look at the final four in this year’s postseason. Toronto had Price and Marcus Stroman. Kansas City had Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura. Chicago had Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. And New York had, well, they had three in Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard.
Right now, the Red Sox have Price, and a whole group of pitchers in competition to be the No. 2 starter in the rotation. We know how that competition went last year. Not good. Hopefully they leave the creative T-shirts at home this time around. You know, the “I’m the ace,” Who’s the ace?,” “He’s the ace” T’s that the Red Sox rotation rocked in spring training. Ya, don’t put those in the truck.
Five years ago, I would have pegged Clay Buchholz as the clear-cut No. 2 in a rotation that included Price. But it’s not 2010 anymore, and Buchholz is now 31-years-old. So let’s be serious here.
Eduardo Rodriguez will have the best shot to fulfill that role. And perhaps — if he’s not traded — Henry Owens will live up to the hype of being one of the organization’s top prospects the last few years. Still, nothing seems guaranteed. And to be completely honest, nobody else in the rotation makes me feel too confident after Price makes his start every fifth day.
So perhaps Dombrowski’s work isn’t done just yet. And while I’d be all-in on trading for an elite starter this winter (you know the names by now: Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale, Sonny Gray), it seems that type of move will be more realistic at the trade deadline, seeing how Arizona’s trade for Miller this week set the bar pretty high. But that doesn’t mean you should completely rule it out.
Regardless, if Dombrowski wants to go from offseason winner to World Series champion, he’ll have to acquire another top dog in the front of the Red Sox rotation between now and July 31.
That much, I trust he’ll do.