Safe to say Dave Dombrowski’s cell phone hasn’t been in its belt holster much this month, as the Red Sox have picked up Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi, and now Ian Kinsler. With the Trade Deadline less than 24 hours away, the market is buzzing, especially since the Nationals announced tonight that they’re willing to talk Bryce Harper. And people say baseball is boring.
But in the midst of an astonishing walk-off win tonight, the Red Sox announced that they were trading away two pitching prospects – Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez – to get the veteran second baseman from Anaheim. They also managed to finagle $1.8 million from the Angels, which is a nice bonus for the team that has both the most wins and the highest payroll in all of MLB. They’re definitely the winners in this trade; it’s no secret that the Angels have one of the weakest farm systems in the league right now.
Kinsler is a 4-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, but is currently posting career-low .239 batting average and .710 OPS, though he does have a .859 OPS since the last week of May and he’s batting .320 this month. And with the exceptions of Mookie, JD, Benintendi, and Xander, Kinsler’s WAR is higher than that of every position player on his new team.
Kinsler is also a solid baserunner, one of the only areas in which many of the Sox have struggled with in astounding fashion this season. Regardless, his defense will surely be an upgrade from the combination of Swihart/Holt/Nuñez/anyone who can wear a glove currently playing Round Robin to fill in for Dustin Pedroia.
Speaking of Pedroia, the move to sign Kinsler – who is in the final year of his contract – likely closes the book on Pedroia’s 2018 season. Ironically, Ian Kinsler transferred from ASU to Mizzou back in his college ball days because Dustin Pedroia took his spot on the team. The career-Red Sox second baseman has been rehabbing his knee in Arizona for weeks now, and the team has made it clear that they have no timetable for his return. Despite Cora’s statements to the contrary, I’ve assumed for a while that we wouldn’t be seeing him back this year.
Kinsler is heading into the tail end of his 30s, so this isn’t a guy the Red Sox are trying to keep around long-term. After all, we’re stuck with Pedroia through 2022. But he’s a short-term defensive fix that the team needs in order to free up Holt and Nunie for utility work and filling in for the injured Rafael Devers. Nuñez is best at third base, anyway.
While Kinsler will hopefully fill one of the few holes on this incredible Red Sox team, I’m still more concerned about depth in the bullpen. Dombrowski said as recently as tonight: “I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last move we make. A lot of people talk about our bullpen but we like our bullpen.” (Jason Mastrodonato) But that could definitely be obfuscation, as teams clamor to get their desired players ahead of the deadline.
Tonight’s extra-innings, high-stakes game against a fellow first-place team definitely gave me more confidence in Brasier, Kelly, and Hembree, but we’ve still seen enough blown leads to know that an addition strong arm would make a big difference.