With the three-way trade between the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Twins stalled over concerns about righthander Brusdar Graterol — the prospect who would head from Minnesota to Boston — agent Scott Boras blasted suggestions that his client is unhealthy or in any way limited.
“To suggest that this player is not healthy going forward, or has any form of substantive medical defect that would in any way damage his career, all of that is false. This is a scant supposition created by medical review, by someone who has never seen him physically,” Boras said by phone. “I don’t know Boston’s position on this. I know that people are suggesting that Graterol has some malady about him medically, which is inaccurate. That supposition is false.
“He is in spring training. He’s ready to throw without limitations going forward through the season. And there’s no suggestion that there’s anything at issue with this player in the current or immediate aspects of his career.”
According to major league sources, some Red Sox evaluators viewed Graterol as having a chance to emerge as a mid-rotation starter or better, albeit with a strong chance that he can be a valuable late-inning reliever if he doesn’t stick in the rotation. The last three days, evaluators from four different teams have offered similar views: Graterol’s premium, triple-digit fastball, slider, and changeup give him the pitch mix of a potential starter, even though his high-effort delivery and lack of a clear third pitch suggest a greater likelihood he ends up in a bullpen.
However, as first reported by The Athletic, the Red Sox became concerned by Graterol’s medical file that he had less of a chance than they’d anticipated to remain a starter. Since then, the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Twins have spent days trying to figure out if — based on that view — the Red Sox could receive additional compensation in the deal.
But Boras suggested any concerns about Graterol’s health or ability to start were unfounded based on examinations by the Twins medical staff and Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
“No doctor has told me that there is anything about his future going forward other than that it is very bright and he has no limitations. That is the evidence of people who have examined him,” said Boras. “Now I have people who have only looked at medical records — and I know have not contacted these doctors — making bald allegations about this player. It’s supposition.”
Might his health history, which includes Tommy John surgery in 2015 as well as a diagnosis last year by the Twins of right shoulder impingement — which Boras referred to as inflammation, often an associated symptom of an impingement — that sidelined him for two months, limit Graterol’s ability to start moving forward?
“Absolutely not,” said Boras, noting that the Twins moved him to the bullpen in order to fast-track him to the big leagues, where he could fill a need. “I had this conversation with the Minnesota staff. There’s a very clear probability that this player will return to be a starting pitcher.”
Boras said that evidence of Graterol’s return to health came in the form of his 100-plus m.p.h. velocity upon his return. He also suggested that minor league pitchers often miss time and are rested conservatively in response to any signs of shoulder inflammation, but that such a course does not offer evidence of long-term risk.
Ultimately, Boras said, if the three-team deal that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles breaks down, he doesn’t believe it will be over concerns about Graterol’s health.
“It gets out as to the reason why a trade has a hiccup,” said Boras. “There could be a variety of reasons [for a trade to break down]. All I’m saying to this is that the reason is not Brusdar’s health.”
As of Friday, the Red Sox, Twins, and Dodgers continued their conversations in an effort to bring their deal to resolution. Boras isn’t the only one concerned.
With the fate of at least 10 players spread across four teams still up in the air on Friday, nearly 72 hours after the Sox, Dodgers, and Twins agreed in principle, and the Dodgers and Angels agreed to a related second deal, the MLB Players Association delivered a rare comment on a transaction: Enough.
“The proposed trades between the Dodgers, Red Sox, Twins, and Angels need to be resolved without further delay,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. “The events of this last week have unfairly put several Players’ lives in a state of limbo.”
As of late Friday afternoon, the three-team blockbuster to send Betts and Price to L.A., pitcher Kenta Maeda to Minnesota, and outfielder Alex Verdugo (from the Dodgers) and Graterol (from the Twins to Boston); and the Dodgers’ deal to send outfielder Joc Pederson and starter Ross Stripling along with a prospect to the Angels for infielder Luis Rengifo and a prospect, had not been finalized. The teams involved had agreed in principle to the two deals on Tuesday night.
Clark took particular issue with the loss of Graterol’s medical privacy, and that Pederson was left to argue in an arbitration hearing against a team that has already agreed to send him elsewhere.
“The unethical leaking of medical information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often Players are treated as commodities by those running the game,” Clark said.