SEATTLE — The Red Sox were shopping around for something dramatic, but they settled for something practical — lefty reliever Fernando Abad.
Abad alone may not move the needle in the American League East. If the Red Sox had been able to land Chris Sale, that would have been another matter. If they had been able to land Carlos Beltran as a potent bat in the middle of the order, that too, would have provided severe heat for their opponents.
Dave Dombrowski said he hadn’t spoken to the White Sox since Friday, so the up-to-the-deadline conversations were not related to Sale, and he indicated he was not talking about any blockbusters. He said he had about 20 conversations in the last two days.
“We had some very active conversations right till the very end with some people,” Dombrowski said. “There were no truth to those rumors whatsoever [Sale]. We hadn’t talked with the White Sox since last Friday.”
Was he disappointed that he couldn’t pull off a Sale deal?
“I can’t talk about another organization’s player, but I’m not disappointed at all,” Dombrowski said. “I’m very happy with our club. We were looking to get better any way we could, and in Abad’s case, it gives [manager] John [Farrell] another alternative. He’s had a very good year.”
The Red Sox wouldn’t pay the White Sox’ price. In fact, the Dodgers also were turned away in their bid for Sale. So the White Sox were true to their word when they insisted they needed to be overwhelmed to move him. That feeling never came upon them.
According to a major league source, the Red Sox did make proposals for Beltran, and Dombrowski admitted that he had conversations with the Yankees, but GM Brian Cashman elected to deal with Texas for a so-far failed No. 1 pick righty Dillon Tate and two other minor leaguers.
But as it was, the Red Sox improved in the bullpen, where all teams must be solid to advance far into the postseason.
The Dodgers, Rangers, and Giants made the most impactful deals — the Dodgers obtaining lefty Rich Hill and Josh Reddick from the A’s, the Rangers getting Beltran and picking off Jonathan Lucroy and closer Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers.
The Yankees took another step to the future, dealing Beltran and righty Ivan Nova after trading off Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for hauls of young players. Cashman now may have the best farm system in baseball. The Giants got Matt Moore from the Rays to add to their impressive arsenal of starting pitching. Moore will likely take the place of Matt Cain or Jake Peavy.
Another big name to go was Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, to the Mets.
But how did Boston compare with its AL East opponents?
In that regard, the Red Sox may not have anything to fear.
“We were not involved with any blockbuster deals,” Dombrowski said. “We were just trying to get better. We were open-minded for a number of different things. We’ve acquired [Drew] Pomeranz, [Aaron] Hill, Brad Ziegler, and Abad. If we had done that in one day people would say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe how much we did.’ But we spaced it over time.’’
Dombrowski said he was happy he didn’t give up top prospects Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Rafael Devers.
“These guys are special players, and they’re not far from the big leagues either,” Dombrowski said. “We have a club that can win now and for years to come. They’re so important to the future.”
During Monday’s game, the team’s plans for Benintendi became apparent: the 22-year-old outfielder will be called up Tuesday, joining the team in Seattle.
Dombrowski said all the Red Sox’ competitors got better. But you have to wonder.
In Baltimore, Dan Duquette reacquired the versatile Steve Pearce from the Rays to add a righthanded bat to an always-ferocious lineup. The day before, he acquired Wade Miley, who has struggled with an ERA around 5 but has pitched better lately, a guy who can pitch deep into games. Is it the best move? Probably not.
But the Orioles also are short on tradable chips, and with these two moves, they got away with giving up very little of importance.
The Blue Jays made a couple of interesting deals, acquiring Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.46 ERA) from the Pirates and Scott Feldman from the Astros. You can make the argument that Liriano has had a bad season, and how could he help the Jays? We’ll soon find out.
The hope there is that change of scenery will agree with Liriano, but of course the National-League-to-American-League transition isn’t always crisp.
Feldman has actually done a nice job out of the Astros’ pen. It appears Feldman could stay in the pen while Liriano replaces Aaron Sanchez in the rotation as the Jays seek to limit Sanchez’s innings.
The Jays also obtained Mike Bolsinger from the Dodgers for struggling reliever Jesse Chavez. The Jays did not get the big hitter they were seeking, as they had been attached to Bruce, who went to the Mets.
The Yankees now start their rebuilding with elite prospects based on the dealings of veterans Beltran, Miller, Chapman, and Nova.
What will be interesting is what the team does with Alex Rodriguez. Will they release him and eat the remaining $20 million of his deal next season or simply use him as the DH? Cashman has a new world of options. Don’t expect it to be a long rebuild. He’ll incorporate 6-foot-7-inch right fielder Aaron Judge into the mix after Judge comes off the disabled list, and you’re likely to see future catcher Gary Sanchez take time away from Brian McCann, who was not traded. McCann could wind up being the DH if A-Rod goes.
There was much debate in the Rays organization on whether to deal any of their pitchers, but in the end they decided on Moore, who was due $7 million in an option next season and then options for $9 and $10 million. This is a bargain for the Giants, who already have the bargain contract of the century with Madison Bumgarner. The Rays got third baseman Matt Duffy, but they already have Evan Longoria. The guess is Duffy, who is currently on the disabled list, will compete for the shortstop job. The Rays needed offense, and Duffy provides some.
In the end, none of the AL East teams did anything really dramatic except for the Yankees’ fire sale. As Dombrowski pointed out: “Now it’s a matter of who plays the best.”