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Switching Sox: Breaking Down the Chris Sale Trade

The Boston Red Sox have traded 4 of their top prospects, including the No. 1 ranked prospect in Yoan Moncada, for All Star Lefty Chris Sale in what is the biggest move of the offseason. Davey Dombrowski is not fucking around. He wants to win and wants to win now.

Chris Sale by Minda Haas Kuhlmann is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Switching Sox: Breaking Down the Chris Sale Trade


Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Chris Sale is a member of the Boston Red Sox.

This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The first big offseason move has been made and it’s a fucking doozy. The Boston Red Sox have traded 4 of their top prospects, including the No. 1 ranked prospect in Yoan Moncada, for All Star Lefty Chris Sale in what is the biggest move of the offseason. Davey Dombrowski is not fucking around. He wants to win and wants to win now.

The Red Sox actually made three moves today shipping Travis Shaw off to Milwaukee, and signing Gold Glove First Baseman Mitch Moreland to a 1-year deal. All of these deal give Boston a bright 2017 to look forward to.

On my way home from work, as I was on the escalator going into the Subway station, a man going the opposite direction saw my Red Sox hat. I have a rotation of hats I wear, so it’s not the same one everyday, but mainly it has to match my outfit and my work uniform. So this dude sees my hat and lights up, as we’re about to pass each other he leans across the handrail and taps my arm and says “Big Day! And Papi’s coming back!” And then it hit me. I might not be in love with this trade.

Let’s start from the beginning of the day. Boston traded 1B/3B/OF Travis Shaw, #9 Prospect 2B/SS Mauricio Dubon, #27 Prospect Josh Pennington, and a player to be named later to the Milwaukee Brewers for Right-handed relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg. This is the first big move of the day. Travis Shaw, affectionately known as the Mayor of Ding Dong City, struggled to find his place on the Red Sox team in 2016 even though he beat out Pablo Sandoval for the Opening Day start at Third. Travis has promise, he has potential, but he was never going to grow in Boston. First base? Gotta play Hanley. Third base? Gotta play Pablo. Travis was stuck in a difficult infield, and the Red Sox front office did the right thing by shipping him off to Milwaukee. He’s going to be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Brewers at first and I am very thankful to have been able to watch him play for the Sox.

So who did they get in return? Well, they got Tyler Thornburg, otherwise known as “Who the Fuck is Tyler Thornburg?” Well, Thornburg is the guy who’s going to be the 8th inning set up man for Craig Kimbrel. Thornburg’s 2016 didn’t receive much pomp and circumstance, but that’s prboably because of the team he played for. In 67 appearances in 67 games, Thornburg had 90 Ks, giving him a K/9 ratio of 12.1. To give you an idea, Aroldis Chapman has a 15.1 and White Sox Closer Dave Robertson has an 11.9. So Thornburg’s 12.1 is nothing to shake a stick at, making him the best reliever you’ve never heard of.

This also means that the Red Sox are done with Koji Uehara. Thornburg will take over the 8th inning and become the bridge to Craig Kimbrel. This move also signaled the Red Sox dedication to keeping Hanley Ramirez at first, and Moncada/Sandoval at third, in wake of the decision to trade Shaw. UNTIL…

About two hours later when the Red Sox traded half of their top 10 prospects for Chris Sale. Let’s start with Moncada, because he’s the biggest piece in this whole trade. Yoan Moncada was signed by the Red Sox to deal totaling $63 million dollars in MLB taxes and overages. Moncada spent the last two years climbing up the Red Sox farm system. While he didn’t have stunning numbers, his potential is through the roof, and that’s what the Red Sox were paying for. In fact the big prospect on his way to Milwaukee, Mauricio Dubon, had better numbers than Moncada through his first two years, but it’s about what this kid is capable of that had Chicago foaming at the mouth. Moncada has the potential to blow the roof off the joint.

Same thing with Michael Kopech, the #5 prospect in the Sox farm system. Kopech has an enormous upside, as he’s a starter with a 2.61 ERA in the minors and tosses triple digit heat. The hardest pitch ever thrown was hurled by Aroldis Chapman at 105.1 MPH, and Kopech hit 105 MPH for the Single-A Salem Red Sox. SO THERE’S AN INSANE AMOUNT OF UPSIDE WITH THIS KID TOO.

The move to trade Moncada also comes on the heels of the release of photos of Pablo Sandoval looking FIT AS FUCK. Pablo Sandoval looks so good in these pictures it makes me super sad that he was as big as he was in 2016. Like, this is a guy who has a weight issue and it’s obviously a mental issue for the dude. The Red Sox obviously knew about Pablo’s progress before all of us, and this move solidified the fact that the front office is going to see Pablo’s contract through, no matter what.

What is really at the heart of this trade is the Red Sox trading away their future for the present. That man on the escalator wasn’t looking towards the future with hope, he was looking at the past and saying we’re doing fine. On paper this trade is not worth the years in the future where the Sox struggle to maintain dominance in the AL East. The Red Sox farm system has been gutted, and rebuilding it will take some time, but we won’t know the damage this trade has done for years down the road. Red Sox fans are still holding firm to the idea that Big Papi will make a comeback in 2017, that’s the kind of mentality most Sox fans have.

That is not a bad thing. Big Papi has been the one constant thread from 2004 to the present. David Ortiz is the last connection to the 2004 World Series Champs, the team that will live forever in the hearts of every Sox fan, and now he’s gone. The longest tenured Red Sox are now Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz, the only guys in the dugout with two rings. In fact, they are the only guys with rings in the dugout now. That’s a little unsettling considering that the Boston Red Sox have always had a strong connection to the past. The ghosts of Red Sox past are everywhere at Fenway, and for the first time in a while we’ve lost our direct line of connection to them.

But let’s say this trade works out. Let’s say this works. What a big fucking trade this is. Chris Sale is the piece the Red Sox were looking for, he’s the guy they thought David Price would be in 2016. Chris Sale has a career record of 74-50, for a team that has only had a winning record in two of his seven years at U.S. Cellular. What Chris Sale has done in Chicago is KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND OF AMAZING. Rick Porcello won 22 games for a team that gave him a lot of run support. In the four games Porcello had two or less runs to work with, he was 1-3, and in the 9 games Sale had two or less runs scored on his behalf, he was 3-5. So, YEAH, I THINK HE’LL DO JUST FINE IN BOSTON.

Dave Dombrowski, the GM for the Sox, came out and said that from the start of the offseason it was going to be “Sale or Nothing.” It turned out to be “Sale for Everything,” but with this rotation now touting two Cy Young winners and a guy who’s  been THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS close his entire career, Boston just became not only the team to beat in the AL East, but also the entire American League.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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