With the exception of two rough outings, Craig Kimbrel’s Red Sox career has started off very well. The deal Dave Dombrowski made to obtain the high-profile closer from San Diego cost the Red Sox four prospects.
The key piece in the deal for San Diego is center fielder Manuel Margot, who entered Friday hitting .260 with two homers and 12 RBIs for Triple A El Paso in the Pacific Coast League. Margot, 21, could be up with the Padres this season.
They also received 20-year-old shortstop Javy Guerra, who was hitting .221 with three homers and 13 RBIs for high Single A Lake Elsinore in the California League; 24-year-old, lefthanded-hitting third baseman Carlos Asuaje, who was hitting .298 with three homers and 10 RBIs for El Paso; and lefty reliever Logan Allen, 18, who had a 1.89 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 19 innings for Single A Fort Wayne in the Midwest League.
The Padres would love to make another deal with the Red Sox — perhaps for Matt Kemp or James Shields — to enhance their farm system with more of Boston’s top prospects.
Here’s a look at how 10 other offseason trades have worked out so far:
1. The Rays got outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson and third baseman Kevin Padlo from the Rockies for lefty reliever Jake McGee and pitcher German Marquez. Dickerson was hitting .192, though he had five homers and nine RBIs. McGee had a 5.59 ERA but had converted seven of eight save opportunities. Padlo, 19, a big righthanded hitter, was hitting .207 for Single A Bowling Green, but with four homers and 19 RBIs. The righthanded Marquez, 19, was 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA in five starts for Double A Hartford. It was smart of the Rockies to pick off a Tampa Bay pitcher.
2. The Yankees obtained Aroldis Chapman from the Reds for infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda and pitchers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis. Chapman is eligible to join the Yankees on Monday after serving a 30-game suspension. The best of the minor leaguers Cincinnati received is Davis, a 23-year-old righty who was 2-1 with a 0.78 ERA in four starts for Double A Pensacola.
3. In a three-team deal, the White Sox got Todd Frazier, the Reds got second baseman Jose Peraza, infielder Brandon Dixon, and outfielder Scott Schebler, and the Dodgers got outfielder Trayce Thompson, infielder Micah Johnson, and pitcher Frankie Montas. Frazier has had a helter-skelter season, batting .200 but with seven homers and 18 RBIs. His .706 OPS is well below his career mark and he has struck out 25 times. Peraza was hitting .287 for Triple A Louisville. Schebler was hitting .177 with the Reds. Thompson was hitting .268 with two homers and nine RBIs for the Dodgers.
4. The Astros obtained Ken Giles from the Phillies for five pitchers — Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer, Thomas Eshelman, and Harold Arauz. This is not what the Astros had in mind when they targeted Giles as their future closer. Giles has a 9.26 ERA in a setup role. Velasquez has been a huge surprise for the Phillies, going 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 31⅓ innings. Appel, a former No. 1 overall pick, is 3-1 with 3.00 ERA in five starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Eshelman, a righty, has been impressive for high Single A Clearwater (1-1, 2.35).
5. Neil Walker went from the Pirates to the Mets for lefty starter Jonathon Niese. Walker has provided the Mets stability at second base while hitting .276 with nine homers and 19 RBIs. Niese has had a couple of rough outings after a nice start.
6. Pitchers Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier went to the Diamondbacks from the Braves, who obtained highly touted shortstop Dansby Swanson, outfielder Ender Inciarte, and pitcher Aaron Blair. Miller has been awful. He was 0-3 with an 8.49 ERA and led the NL with 19 walks. Inciarte has been on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain but is expected back this weekend. Blair was 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA for the Braves after a strong start with Triple A Gwinnett. Swanson was recently promoted to Double A Mississippi after posting a .967 OPS at Carolina.
7. Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro went from the Red Sox to the Mariners for two other pitchers, Carson Smith and Roenis Elias. Miley took a few starts to get cranking, but he has pitched a complete game and he’s eating up innings. Smith didn’t debut until last week after dealing with a flexor strain, but has been impressive. Elias was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts for Pawtucket.
8. The Orioles received outfielder Mark Trumbo and pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser from the Mariners for catcher Steve Clevenger. Looks like Dan Duquette won this one. Trumbo has been among the top hitters in the AL (.324, 8 homers, 22 RBIs, .953 OPS), while Clevenger is a backup catcher hitting .200. Riefenhauser is off to a poor start for Triple A Iowa.
9. Francisco Rodriguez went from the Brewers to the Tigers for infielder Javier Betancourt and a player to be named. Rodriguez was 7 for 8 in save opportunities, but did have a 4.66 ERA. This was a salary dump by the Brewers. It has worked out fine for the Tigers.
10. The Yankees traded catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for outfielder Aaron Hicks. I remember saying this was a good deal for both teams. Turns out it was bad for both. Murphy was hitting .075 and Hicks .091.
CHANGE IN ATLANTA?
Braves should consider Lovullo
Reports surfaced last week that the Braves are considering a managerial change from Fredi Gonzalez. The Braves weren’t supposed to be any good, but perhaps president of baseball operations John Hart feels they shouldn’t have the majors’ worst record.
So who would be the best man for the job?
And who would take it?
Not sure he’s on Hart’s radar, but Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo would be worthy of consideration.
The Braves next season move into SunTrust Park in Cobb County in suburban Atlanta. They have an excellent farm system, the result of good trades in ridding veteran contracts. At some point, they’ll be able to spend money and augment young talent with proven players.
There’s some sentiment that the Braves should stay within the organization and promote first base coach Terry Pendleton, bullpen coach Eddie Perez, or third base coach Bo Porter on an interim basis. The next full-time manager would likely inherit a team on the rise.
Which is why the Braves should consider Lovullo.
Lovullo has shown the ability to manage young players, and the Braves have plenty of them. Lovullo is the guy on the Sox’ staff who sifts through the analytical stuff and picks out what he feels will be relevant for John Farrell to use each day, such as information on shifting.
Lovullo’s biggest strength might be communication; he’s the guy who settles clubhouse issues and disputes, and talks to players who need direction or scolding.
Lovullo played in the Indians’ system when Hart was in Cleveland’s front office, so they are familiar with each other.
Other names mentioned for a potential Braves opening are former Padres manager Bud Black, with his own Hart/Indians roots, and former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
Apropos of nothing
1. Hitting coach Chili Davis deserves praise for the Red Sox’ offensive success, but let’s not forget assistant hitting coach Vic Rodriguez., whom Sox players love.
2. According to MLB, entering Thursday, the National League was averaging 4.47 runs per game compared with the American League’s 4.01. The NL has not averaged more runs per game than the AL since 1974 (4.15 to 4.10). The difference of 0.46 runs per game is on pace to be the largest in favor of the NL since 1945, when the NL had a 0.56 advantage (4.46 to 3.90). During the AL’s current 41-year run of averaging more runs than the NL, only five times did the AL finish with a difference greater than 0.46: 1980 (+0.48), 1985 (+0.49), 1988 (+0.48), 1994 (+0.61), and 1996 (+0.71). Six of the eight highest-scoring teams in the majors this season play in the NL. Last season, only two of the top eight were from the NL.
3. Commissioner Ron Manfred said he hasn’t talked to Bryce Harper directly about Harper’s comment that baseball is “tired.” But Manfred disagreed with the sport’s top superstar. “We’ve actually had a little exchange,” Manfred said. “I don’t agree that the game is tired. And you know what, I bet if he could have that word back maybe he wouldn’t agree with it, but who knows. I do agree with the sentiment expressed in the rest of his comments. I think this generation of players, just like the generations before, are going to define what the unwritten rules of the game are on the field. We set the written ones, but what is acceptable within those boundaries, players have always determined that. I think this generation, like prior generations, should have the right to do that. I think they will probably make a little different judgment than prior generations. I’m also 100 percent confident that whatever judgments they make will be respectful of the game.”
4. Red Sox players are not sympathetic to players who have tested positive for PEDs. One Sox player said, “I hope we nail every one of them. Let’s do one [positive test] and out [of baseball]. That would act as a deterrent, for sure.”
5. The Yankees are really disappointed in Luis Severino’s first five starts — 0-4, 6.31. They thought he was going to grow into one of the elite young pitchers, and he still may, but he seems far from it at the moment.
6. Josh Hamilton had a setback last week in his recovery from surgery on his left knee. The knee is pretty weak and it buckles on Hamilton. When the 35-year-old former MVP returns to the Rangers is likely contingent on Hamilton’s pain tolerance.
7. Can’t tell you how many scouts bring up Brock Holt in conversation. The conversation usually goes like this, “Every team is looking for a Brock Holt. He’s a ballplayer you can stick anywhere. He’s a manager’s dream. Because of Holt, you’re now seeing teams trying to create their own version. He’s tough to match, though.”
8. All of Chicago is waiting to see when Theo Epstein and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts wrap up contract talks. Epstein is expected to become the highest-paid executive (non-owner) in baseball history. General manager Jed Hoyer is also expected to be rewarded.
Updates on nine
1. Jay Bruce, OF, Reds — Bruce has been rumored to be on the trading block, but the Reds haven’t received the right package yet. The White Sox have the money ($13 million saved from Adam LaRoche) to make it happen, and need a lefthanded bat. Other players the White Sox could target include Brett Gardner, Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith, and Nick Markakis. Count the Angels in on those bats as well.
2. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies — The numbers aren’t pretty — .193 average entering Friday, with 34 strikeouts in 88 at-bats. But his seven homers and 14 RBIs speak to a productive stroke. Could Howard, in the final year of his deal with the Phillies, be adding to his value?
3. John Danks, LHP, free agent — Danks was designated for assignment last week after a 10-year run with the White Sox. Danks was never the same after shoulder surgery in 2012, the season after he signed a five-year, $65 million extension. Danks will likely try to catch on with another team, perhaps in the NL, but it could be he collects his money and retires.
4. Wade Miley, LHP, Mariners — After a rough beginning, Miley has turned things around in Seattle. He pitched a shutout against the Royals April 30 after going 7⅓ innings against the Angels in his previous start. Miley’s starts are never pretty, but they’re quick and efficient, and his ability to rack up innings is the reason the M’s traded promising reliever Carson Smith to Boston to get him.
5. Rubby De La Rosa, RHP, Diamondbacks — The elimination of a cutter and more emphasis on a slider is why De La Rosa, who was demoted to the bullpen in April, is back in the rotation. De La Rosa allowed four runs in 5⅔ innings in his last start, but the Diamondbacks feel he has turned the corner.
6. Josh Reddick, RF, Athletics — Reddick can become a free agent after the season. If the A’s can’t re-sign him, will Reddick be a major trade chip at the deadline? We mentioned the White Sox are looking for a lefthanded bat, and Reddick could become a prime target for teams seeking a hitter. Reddick and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein have a history from the Red Sox.
7. Blake Swihart, C/LF, Pawtucket — Does Swihart have the power desired from a corner outfielder? One talent evaluator feels he can be an Alex Gordon type, a guy who could hit between 15-18 homers and knock in 80-90 runs. Obviously, Swihart has a long way to go to become the defensive player Gordon is. That’s why his highest value is as a catcher. If he can hit .290-.300 with 15 homers and drive in 75 runs, he’d rank among the top-hitting catchers. Swihart still has a lot of value and other teams would still ask for him in trade over Christian Vazquez, whose offensive potential is still in question. “They wouldn’t trade him [Swihart] in a Cole Hamels deal, but if they need a No. 2 type pitcher, the feeling is Dave Dombrowski might include him in a package,” said one AL GM.
8. Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves — His name is popping up as talent evaluators and front office people start building their lists of players they think might be available before the trade deadline. Teheran has great stuff and the Braves may continue to sell off their players as they fall deeper out of contention. President of baseball operations John Hart has done well getting maximum return for his players. Teheran should land him a haul.
9. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers — There’s ongoing talk that Lucroy won’t last the year in Milwaukee. Some teams (Texas) still have a need at catcher and Lucroy more than fills that need.
From Bill Arnold’s goodies: The Orioles’ Chris Davis (54 homers), the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (54), the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (52), and the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson (50) are the only major leaguers with 50 or more homers since the start of the 2015 season through Thursday . . . Happy birthday, Adrian Gonzalez (34).
Something in the wind
It’s been awhile since Chicago was king of the baseball universe. The White Sox topped the Cubs in six games in the World Series ... in 1906. The Cubs won it all in 1907 and ’08. The Cubs famously haven’t won since. The White Sox won again in 1917, fell, ahem, a little short in 1919, and then went without a title until 2005. But one month into the 2016 season, hope is springing eternal: The Chicago teams led their respective divisions on May 1 for only the second time since meeting in the 1906 Fall Classic.
Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.