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Chris Sale talks day of trade, calls from Red Sox teammates, playing in Boston market

12.07.16 at 10:24 am ET
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Chris Sale introduced himself to the Boston media via a conference call Wednesday morning. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

Chris Sale introduced himself to the Boston media via a conference call Wednesday morning. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

OXON HILL, Md. — Chris Sale found out about his trade to the Red Sox while driving up Interstate-75 to his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla. David Price was the first to reach out the Red Sox newly-acquired ace pitcher. And he is looking forward to the competition between starters in the Red Sox rotation, which currently boasts seven members.

These were some of the items touched on during Sale’s introductory conference call Wednesday morning. Here is a transcript:

THOUGHTS ON THE TRADE

Hey guys. I want to say hey to everybody first. No doubt. It’s kind of like being the monkey in the middle. You’re just glad when you finally get the ball. It’s hectic. There’s a lot of speculation, there’s story after story, I’m obviously getting flooded with text messages from family and friends. Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice.

(THOUGHTS ON COMING TO BOSTON)

I’m excited. You’re talking about one of the greatest baseball franchises ever. I’ve always been a big fan of the Boston Red Sox for a few reasons. It’s also going to be nice to spend more time down in Southwest Florida as well for spring training. That was big for us as well. My wife is a couple weeks away from delivering our second son. We’re having another baby. That helps us out tremendously.

HAPPY IT WAS THE RED SOX?

I’m as excited as anybody, honestly. I don’t know how you couldn’t be. You’re in the annual running for making the playoffs and have a realistic chance for winning the World Series. I think the group of guys, I’ve always heard great things about the guys on this team, the front office. You have dedicated ownership and front  office guys dedicated to winning annually. So it’s exciting. I’ve always, always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. It’s a trip my wife comes on every year as well. We both really like the city and the stadium. Obviously, it’s a very special place.

TALENT ON RED SOX ROSTER

That’s kind of the cherry on top. You look at the talent on this team as a whole – not only just the pitching staff but as a whole – you’ve got some young guys, you obviously have a veteran leader and one of the best in the game in [Dustin] Pedroia leading the charge, you can’t ask for much more. You have guys in the bullpen who can lock it down.  On paper, it looks good. I know we’ve still got to go out there and do it, but there’s no reason not to be excited right now.

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW DAVID PRICE, RICK PORCELLO?

More so with Price, just seeing each other during the summer. He was actually the first one to reach out to me, welcoming me and saying, hey, let’s go, welcome to the Sox and let’s get it rolling. It’s an honor. You look at these guys, Porcello, he lives down here in Southwest Florida as well so that’s nice. Not only the guys that they are, but heck, David Price won the Cy Young a few years ago, obviously Price this year. Being in that company is nice.

THOUGHTS ON BEING IN THIS ROTATION

Yeah, I think that’s the main thing, the good thing in all of this. I can definitely see a competition between all of us. Not only us three, but everybody. [Drew] Pomeranz, [Eduardo] Rodriguez, pushing each other, trying to be better and just making each other better. It would be nice, regardless of who’s pitching on what night. the next night, we have as good if not a better chance all the way down the line. It’s nice, but not only that, but it takes some pressure off of everybody. Just go out there and pitch because you don’t have feel like you have a huge weight on your shoulders to win this game for sure, 100 percent. It alleviates the pressure that might build on some guys.

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Dave Dombrowski, John Farrell reveal how Chris Sale deal was done

12.06.16 at 11:09 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell (L) speaks with the media as Red Sox president of baseball operation Dave Dombrowski (R) listens after the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale on Tuesday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox manager John Farrell (L) speaks with the media as Red Sox president of baseball operation Dave Dombrowski (R) listens after the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale on Tuesday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox have wanted Chris Sale since Dave Dombrowski took control of the baseball operations in 2015. But only in the last week did the White Sox finally decide they were ready to deal.

On Friday, after baseball and its players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, Dombrowski’s phone rang. White Sox counterpart Rick Hahn wanted to know, as Dombrowski recalled, “if we were going to be in.”

“He was going to move him, he felt, at this point,” Dombrowski told reporters at the winter meetings in Maryland. “After the CBA they were committed to making some moves in the organization, did we have interest. I said, ‘Well, of course we have interest in Chris Sale, anybody in baseball would have interest in Chris Sale.’ It would be a matter of what you were looking to acquire and we talked a little bit.”

Without mentioning specifics, Dombrowski said the White Sox moved off their demands for players on the big league roster who had been the focus of prior talks. Many have long believed All-Star center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to be one such target.

The sides agreed to one player in the deal on Friday night and another on Saturday. By the wee hours of Monday night into Tuesday morning, they had the framework of a deal complete that would end up being a blockbuster: Sale to the Red Sox for top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, as well as highly regarded minor leaguers Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz.

“It’s a very difficult deal to make, but I’ve also been in a spot where you have to give something to get something,” Dombrowski said. “The ability to get a Chris Sale doesn’t come along that often. This is one of the best pitchers in baseball, proven. We’re trying to win. There will come a day when Moncada is putting in his 15-year career that we will be saying, ‘The Red Sox, geez, I can’t believe we traded that guy.’ So yes, it does complicate it.”

Because Sale is signed through this year with options for 2018 ($12.5 million) and 2019 ($13.5 million), the Red Sox liked the certainty of acquiring an ace in his prime at an affordable rate.

They’ll enter the season as American League favorites, and they’ll take their chances from there.

“Nothing is guaranteed in life,” Dombrowski said. “It doesn’t mean that you’re going to win by any means, but I think you keep taking a chance and going for it as much as you possibly can and hopefully it works for you some day. Every one of these moves made us better. Because of the strength of the system that people built and because of the young players that we still have, I think we’re still strong for many, many years.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell saluted Dombrowski’s ability to seal the deal.

“This is Dave’s second year as our GM, president. When he targets a guy, he gets him,” Farrell said. “I think there’s a lot to be said for his boldness, his aggressiveness, and even if it’s not — he’s not really worried about what the perception is. He’s most concerned with acquiring players that are going to allow us to win the most right now.”

Read More: chris sale, MLB trade rumors, Red Sox, White Sox

David Ortiz teases Red Sox fans with Instagram post hinting of rethinking retirement following Chris Sale trade

12.06.16 at 8:19 pm ET
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The news of the Red Sox trading for Chris Sale quickly spread around baseball on Tuesday, including to David Ortiz.

The former Red Sox designated hitter posted a picture on Instagram from the Red Sox’ account of Sale with the caption: My god my boy sale to Btown? You guys got me thinking ?

Ortiz officially retired on Nov. 15 after the Red Sox exercised his $17.2 million option for 2017 earlier in the month.

My god my boy sale to Btown? You guys got me thinking ?

A photo posted by David Ortiz (@davidortiz) on

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Yankees GM Brian Cashman says Red Sox are now Golden State Warriors of baseball

12.06.16 at 7:08 pm ET
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Todays Sports)

Brian Cashman.

In the wake of the Red Sox acquiring left-hander Chris Sale to complete what could be a tremendous rotation in Boston, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman found his thoughts drifting to the NBA.

Speaking in Maryland at the winter meetings on Tuesday to Yankees beat reporters, including Newsday’s Erik Boland, Cashman compared the Red Sox to the Golden State Warriors.

“That’s a wow,” Cashman said. “Boston’s like the Golden State Warriors now in baseball. They got their [Kevin] Durant and their [Draymond] Green and [Klay] Thompson and [Steph] Curry.”

Hyperbole aside — the Red Sox did lose retiring Silver Slugger David Ortiz, after all — Cashman seemed to enjoy casting the Red Sox as overwhelming favorites, a position the Yankees routinely found themselves in when ex-Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino reveled in labeling them the Evil Empire.

Per Boland, he told the New York media that he’s not trying to put extra pressure on Boston.

“That’s got nothing to do with me,” he said. “That’s a byproduct of being in a big market and having a good team. . . . I would think the expectations of the Red Sox are sky high. I’m not doing that.”

Read More: brian cashman, chris sale, Golden State Warriors, Red Sox

Red Sox manager John Farrell not ready to name Opening Day starter

12.06.16 at 6:32 pm ET
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Chris Sale

Chris Sale

On a team with two former Cy Young award winners — including the reigning champ — what happens when you add a pitcher everyone assumes will claim the award himself one day?

If you’re Red Sox manager John Farrell, the first question you’re asked is who starts on Opening Day?

Conducting his annual press conference at the Winter Meetings in Maryland on Monday, Farrell told reporters he doesn’t know which if his aces will take the hill when the Red Sox open the season in April against the Pirates.

It could be defending Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. It could be $217 million former winner David Price. Or it could be potential future winner Chris Sale, acquired from the White Sox in a blockbuster earlier in the day.

“Oh, geez. Are you sitting in for Jonny Miller or what?” Farrell joked of the long-time WBZ reporter who likes to ask tough questions. “We’ll have plenty of time to figure that out. But the way that Rick emerged last year — first of all, just you think about Chris Sale as an addition, you think about the returning guys, another year in the progression of Eddie Rodriguez, I think as he continues to understand who he is as a pitcher and what makes him the most effective, David Price obviously, Steven Wright, get him back on track. And that’s not to leave out Drew Pomeranz or Clay Buchholz.

“There’s a surplus right now, but when you think about the high end of it, this is an exciting group.”

Where Sale slots into the rotation will be fascinating to watch. He’s probably the most talented of the three, though Farrell will have plenty of time to sort out the answer to that question.

Read More: chris sale, David Price, MLB trade rumors, opening day starter

Red Sox reportedly reach deal with first baseman Mitch Moreland, completing (maybe?) wild day at Winter Meetings

12.06.16 at 6:17 pm ET
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Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland

Dave Dombrowski is fitting all of his Christmas shopping into one day.

With ace Chris Sale and reliever Tyler Thornburg already in the fold, the Red Sox made more news on Tuesday night by agreeing to a one-year deal with free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.

Moreland, 31, spent the first seven years of his career with the Rangers and won a Gold Glove last year. The left-handed hitter will allow Red Sox manager John Farrell to use Hanley Ramirez as his regular DH, with Moreland’s superior glove shifting to first.

The move isn’t without risk. Moreland hit just .233 last year and saw his production against right-handed pitching dip significantly, from .294-.876 in 2015 to .221-.700 last year.

With Sale, Thornburg, and Moreland acquired, the roster appears set. Dombrowski’s next order of potential business could be finding a new home for one of his extra starters, be it Clay Buchholz or Drew Pomeranz.

 

Read More: Mitch Moreland, MLB trade rumors, Rangers, Red Sox

Looking back (and ahead) at Red Sox’ minor league system under Dave Dombrowski

12.06.16 at 5:20 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski has left the Red Sox minor league system with next to nothing. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski has left the Red Sox minor league system with next to nothing. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

In just over a year on the job, Dave Dombrowski has stomped on the once giant sandcastle of Red Sox minor league talent and has left one small extension of the castle clinging on trying to avoid being swept out to sea.

Granted, because of their prospects the Red Sox have acquired Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Brad Ziegler, Drew Pomeranz, Fernando Abad, Aaron Hill and now Chris Sale, there isn’t much left to the once highly regarded Red Sox minor league system.

Consider the names that have been traded under Dombrowski: Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot, Luis Alexander Basabe, Luis Alejandro Basabe, Victor Diaz, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, Jose Almonte, Aaron Wilkerson, Carlos Asuaje, Pat Light and Wendell Rijo.

Quite the talented group of players is gone and what remains does not even compare.

Below is what the Red Sox have left in their system (top 10 players in order as we see it):

Pitchers: Jason Groome, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Trey Ball, Travis Latkins, Roniel Raudes, Mike Shawaryn, Shaun Anderson, Justin Haley, Jalen Beeks.

Analysis
: Yikes. For a system that once had Kopech, Espinoza and Allen leading the way, what a difference 18 months make, as now their top pitching prospect is an 18-year-old in Groome, who was just drafted last year and has yet to pitch in a game past short-season, Single-A Lowell. Besides Johnson and Owens who have major question marks, the Red Sox do not have anyone who realistically can help the major league team in the next year or two in their system. The contrast to this is the team has Rick Porcello, David Price and Sale at the top of the rotation locked up for the years to come so they likely will not need to tap much into their minor league system for top talent, but it certainly is something to note that there simply is no depth when it comes to pitching in the Red Sox’ system. Shawaryn has some upside, but he too was just drafted last summer and it’s really hard to project where he will be two or three years down the road. Bottom line, look away when looking at the Red Sox’ minor league pitching depth chart.

Positional players: Rafael Devers, Sam Travis, Bobby Dalbec, Josh Ockimey, Nick Longhi, Michael Chavis, C.J. Chatham, Kyri Washington, Tate Matheny and Austin Rei.

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Jason Groome, michael kopech, yoan moncada

Report: Red Sox acquire Chris Sale from White Sox for top prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, others in blockbuster

12.06.16 at 1:23 pm ET
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The Red Sox picked up Chris Sale on Tuesday. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox picked up Chris Sale on Tuesday. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski just pulled off a blockbuster.

The Red Sox president of baseball operations on Tuesday swung for the fences and acquired White Sox ace Chris Sale, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports. The cost was steep — top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, along with two other prospects, later identified as outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and pitcher Victor Diaz.

Sale, 27, gives the Red Sox a third Cy Young-caliber starter, joining defending winner Rick Porcello and former winner David Price. Sale has never won a Cy Young, but he has finished in the top five four times, including this past season, when he went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and a league-leading six complete games.

He set a career-high in innings (226 2/3) while striking out 233. He’s on one of the most affordable contracts in baseball, signed through 2017 with team options for 2018 ($12.5 million) and 2019 ($13.5 million).

The cost of acquiring Sale, who has also been linked to the Nationals, was astounding. Moncada is considered by many the best prospect in baseball, and Kopech has routinely hit 100 mph as a starter.

Sale attended Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, home of Red Sox spring training.

 

Read More: chris sale, Red Sox, White Sox, yoan moncada

Can Tyler Thornburg break uneasy trend for Red Sox trading for late-inning relievers? Dave Dombrowski thinks so

12.06.16 at 12:31 pm ET
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Tyler Thornburg

Tyler Thornburg

OXON HILL, Md. — Trading for high-leverage relievers can be tricky. The Red Sox know this all too well.

Joel Hanrahan (elbow). Mark Melancon (performane). Andrew Bailey (elbow). Carson Smith (elbow). All seemed like good ideas at the time, and all found their careers taking a turn for the worse once immersed in Boston.

Next up: Tyler Thornburg.

The pitcher that the Red Sox scouted while with the Brewers is right in line with what Dave Dombrowski was looking for. He has the stuff and experience to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings, while possessing a contract that doesn’t allow for free agency until after the 2019 season.

But, with the aforementioned history of relievers for the Red Sox, there is always a wary eye to be cast. In this case, the trepidation is born from Thornburg’s right elbow injury that made him miss six months in 2014 and was treated with Platelet Rich Plasma injections.

“We feel good about it,” said Dombrowski of Thornburg’s health. “We looked at the medicals, reviewed them very thoroughly. It’s one of those situations where it looks like the PRP worked and like how it’s supposed to be. Last year, he didn’t miss any time. Pitched back to back days and held his velocity all year long so we feel good about it.”

Thornburg’s over-the-top delivery might lead some to continue their concern, but it also has paved the way for devastating movement on a fastball that lives between 94-97 mph. And with the results garnered after a permanent move to the bullpen in 2016, it wasn’t a tough sell for the Red Sox.

“He is somebody that we like a great deal,” Dombrowski told the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Tuesday morning. “We scouted him very thoroughly last year. He has nasty stuff. Did a good job for Milwaukee in closing games at the end of the year. We feel he’s a guy that projects to be a quality eighth-inning individual for us that can also close a game if needed. He gets lefties out as well as righties. He was what we were looking to try to find. We feel we gave up some good young players but it’s also a situation where I think stabilizing the bullpen for us in that eighth inning role has really been a necessity, something we really put our focus on. Now at the back end, you have guys like [Craig] Kimbrel and you have Thornburg and then you’re in a position where guys like [Joe] Kelly and [Matt] Barnes and [Heath] Hembree, in addition to anyone from the left-hand side.”

Dombrowski explained that the Red Sox’ interest in Thornburg dated back to before he became the Brewers’ closer for the final month of the season, with talks not really gaining traction until recently.

“This took place as far back in the summertime when they didn’t want to trade him,” Dombrowski said. “So right after the season going into the (GM) meetings when we start placing some phone calls. They were not interested in trading Thornburg. Then at the end of the GM meetings [Brewers general manager] David Sterns asked me, ‘Well one guy we have interest in as kind of being a key guy is Travis Shaw.’ Then when they signed [Eric] Thames they kind of backed off a little bit at that time. Then kind of rekindled once we got the deal. I think it was me that called them last week after the deal was made, the CBA deal was done, to touch base. We’ve been on the phone numerous times over the last five days starting back when I was in Boston to arriving here and then yesterday we had numerous conversations and trying to get the thing done.”

As for one of the relievers the Red Sox were counting on to reverse the trend of previous reliever transactions, Carson Smith, Dombrowski is optimistic the righty will be ready to contribute just about a year out from his Tommy John surgery.

“Some people and he are shooting to be ready for Opening Day. That’s what he would hope and he would like,” Dombrowski said. “And his progress has been good to date. But in my own mind, I really have tried to say more of June 1, which is about a year. And not even to put a specific date on that but I really don’t want to put any rush to have him pitch the eighth inning for Opening Day, for example. Having depth out there can only be beneficial. We saw what it did for us last year. All of a sudden we have Kimbrel and Thornburg and Kelly and Barnes and Hembree from the right-hand side. Carson Smith comes back, that’s a great situation to have.”

Dave Dombrowski: Red Sox not changing approach toward prioritizing finding short-term deal for bat

12.06.16 at 12:04 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

OXON HILL, Md. — The Red Sox found their eighth-inning reliever, and it will only cost them a couple of million dollars (and some players). But that isn’t changing how Dave Dombrowski views the club’s approach toward finding the next piece of the puzzle.

The acquisition of reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers (in exchange for Travis Shaw and minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington), the Red Sox will be on the hook for whatever it costs to sign the first-year arbitration-eligible reliever. It presumably leaves the team wit about $6-7 million before bumping up against what they planned on maxing it’s payroll at heading into the season.

The Red Sox could now presumably make a deal involving starter Clay Buchholz, who is owned $13.5 million this season, and make a run at a high-end bat to help fill their DH/first base hole. But, speaking to the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Dombrowski said he is staying the course.

“It clearly now defines what our payroll spending will be for our setup guy. It puts us in a position where we have that type of knowledge of where we want to know,” Dombrowski said. “But I’m also not in a position to change our mindset that we want to go big dollars for a first baseman-slash-DH. It does give us the knowledge of where we need to go. Now we can kind of focus on other things.”

Dombrowski went on to say the Red Sox are indeed looking for a player who preferably hits from the left side and plays first base. Both free agents Mitch Moreland and Pedro Alvarez fit that description and have been linked to the Sox.

“I don’t know that we really have that person on board,” he said. “Brock Holt has played over there. We’ve talked about playing Pablo over there at some point. I can’t tell you 100 percent this would be the guy. It’s something we need to explore.”

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