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By Trading for Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox Are Gambling With Their Future

Getty Images
Getty Images

Congratulations, Red Sox Nation! You just made the horrendous Anthony Rizzo trade again, sending all-world prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for southpaw Drew Pomeranz — essentially, a flashy used car with a history of breaking down — on the off chance that he’s the missing piece to a 2016 World Series team. (Spoiler alert: He’s not.) In doing so, you’ve (A) gotten a taste of the full Dave Dombrowski experience, (B) improved your roster only marginally, and (C) brought Pomeranz’s career full circle. Let’s reminisce!

In 2011, the Indians traded Pomeranz, plus three other prospects, to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jiménez, who was expected to bolster Cleveland’s rotation for a playoff run that never materialized. Pomeranz — who was taken fifth overall in the 2010 draft, two spots behind Manny Machado and two spots ahead of Matt Harvey (and 33 spots ahead of Noah Syndergaard!) — failed to meet expectations in Colorado, bouncing around between Triple-A and the majors until the Rockies dealt him to Oakland following the 2013 season.

That’s when Pomeranz began to turn things around: He promptly resuscitated his career in the A’s bullpen, and even enjoyed some success as a starter before landing on the DL after taking an ill-advised swipe at a wooden chair. And after being traded to San Diego last December as part of a package for Marc Rzepczynski and Yonder Alonso, Pomeranz added a cutter to his arsenal, earned a spot in the Padres rotation, and quickly became San Diego’s ace. Through 17 starts, he posted an ERA of 2.47 and a WHIP of 1.06, and was named to the NL All-Star team. However, with the Padres mired in fourth place in the NL West, Pomeranz found himself on the trading block yet again, which brings us to Thursday night. Now the 27-year-old has been dealt for a hotshot pitching prospect … effectively making him the Jiménez of this deal.

For the Padres, selling on Pomeranz makes perfect sense. His value has never been higher, and it’s not as if he was going to lead San Diego to a postseason berth anytime soon. Considering what they gave up to acquire Pomeranz in the first place (Rzepczynski and Alonso), flipping him for Espinoza — Baseball America’s 15th-ranked prospect — feels like a home run.

For the Red Sox, while this trade may seem appealing at first glance (Dombrowski!), it’s tough to shake the feeling that it’s a high-risk, low-reward move. Pomeranz has already set a career high for innings pitched (102) in the big leagues in 2016; he’s moving from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park (and the pitcher-friendly Coliseum before that) to Fenway; and he’s entering an AL East that’s full of small parks and power hitters, plus now he has to face the DH. Despite everything we know about valuing process over outcome, it’ll be hard not to judge this trade on whether the Red Sox make a playoff run this year. New Boston decision-maker Dombrowski is betting that Pomeranz will help achieve that goal, but at what cost?

Yes, the pickings were slim in the trade market this summer, and the Red Sox desperately needed to shore up their rotation. But that doesn’t justify compromising the future for — well, let’s face it — a doofus who broke his hand punching a chair. When Pomeranz hits free agency in 2018, it seems likely that Dombrowski will be kicking himself for discarding Espinoza, who’s elicited a considerable amount of “next Pedro” hype. In the meantime, though, Red Sox Nation, enjoy the next Ubaldo!