Dealin' Dave Dombrowski strikes again!
Today, the Red Sox announced that they traded Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Seattle Mariners for Carson Smith and Roenis Elias. Understandably, many Boston fans may not know these names because of our East Coast bias. But don't worry, I'm here to help.
Roenis Elias is an intriguing lefty option for the Red Sox. In the past, Elias started for the Mariners, before being moved into the bullpen as a long relief pitcher/lefty specialist. For the Red Sox, we can expect to see him challenge for that #5 spot in the rotation if, and thats a big if, the Red Sox do not make another move for a starting pitcher. Elias will never be a top-end of the rotation guy, but he could be serviceable at the back-end of the rotation if he can control his pitches with more effectiveness.
Now, on to the heart of the deal. Carson Smith is arguably one of the most underrated arms in all of baseball. Last year with the Mariners, Smith struck out 92 batters and posted a 2.31 ERA in 70 innings of work. Smith's strikeout and ground ball percentages are some of the best in the league, as he relies heavily on a powerful fastball/slider option that is only harder to hit because of his low arm slot. With five years of team control, Smith will be in the Sox bullpen for a long time.
With the addition of Smith, the Red Sox are starting to build a Royals-like bullpen. The addition of Smith takes some of the pressure off of guys like Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, who have been overused in the past. Coupled with the addition of Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox now have one of the most formidable bullpens in the entire American League.
While the loss of Wade Miley hurt, the Red Sox were not realistically going into the season with 3, or possibly even 4 if you add Henry Owens, left handed pitchers in their starting rotation. That is why I do not think that Roenis Elias will be the #5 pitcher come Opening Day either.
Dave Dombrowski held a press conference at the Winter Meetings after the acquisition of Smith and Elias, talking about how lucky the Red Sox have been up until this point in regards to deals falling into place. He also talked about how the Red Sox are comfortable with their roster as it is going into Spring Training. While Dombrowski has been surprisingly honest with the media up until this point, I think he may have told one of his first little white lies.
The Red Sox are going to make a move for a right handed arm before the end of the Winter Meetings, in my opinion. Even after this trade, the Red Sox have continued to be linked with Atlanta's Shelby Miller, who is gaining a lot of attention by other ball clubs across the league. The drop off from Price to their #2 pitcher (Buchholz, perhaps Porcello?) at this point is noticeable. Expect the Red Sox to be linked to many starting pitchers throughout the off season if they cannot get a deal done during the Winter Meetings.
This is an exciting time for Red Sox Nation. Enjoy it.
By Pete Packowski