There are a number of compelling stories about fascinating players and competing teams as the MLB trade deadline approaches. But let’s face it, when the Red Sox and Yankees start exchanging blows on the trade market, how can we resist kibitzing?
Just a few hours after the Yankees acquired reliever Zach Britton from the Baltimore (Bore)iloes on Wednesday, the Red Sox countered by dipping into Tampa’s young starting staff for Nathan Eovaldi.
And then Wednesday began with the Red Sox holding a five-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Ding, ding, ding. Touch gloves and let’s get on with it.
Ironically, Eovaldi was scheduled to pitch for Tampa against the Yankees on Wednesday.
“Those games are definitely exciting,” Eovaldi said in a news conference at Tropicana Field after the trade was announced. “The fans, it’s kind of one of those [in]describable feelings. The tensions are always high, and it’s always really good games, good series.”
On the surface, this seems like something of a juxtaposition, in terms of the pitching needs of both teams.
All we’ve been hearing the last month is that the Yankees need another starter. And even though the Red Sox starting staff seems stable at the top. you might have thought they could have benefitted from some bullpen help.
So much for deductive reasoning.
The Sox may have been pushed to the edge after watching Drew Pomeranz struggle in his first start coming off disabled list. So they pulled the trigger on Eovaldi, who is only 28, has a rocket arm and has shown no ill-effects after missing last season following a second Tommy John surgery.
He had allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of his last four starts, including one against the Mets on July 8 in which he had a perfect game through six innings.
And for a right-handed starter with a 0.98 WHIP this season, all they had to give was a left-handed pitching prospect, Jalen Beeks. No sweat for the Sox.
Now Boston has a legitimate No. 3 starter to pair with Chris Sale, the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, and Rick Porcello. And they have a significant insurance policy to guard against future struggles, and medical complications, from Price, Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright.
Already the Sox have had to adjust to the cranky knees of Rodriguez and Wright. And then Rodriguez sprained his ankle. Wright and Rodriguez are currently on the disabled list. Pomeranz, of course, has been dealing with tendonitis in his bicep and his ERA is 6.91.
You may remember that Eovaldi was 23-11 in two seasons with the Yankees (2015-2016). The acquisition of Eovaldi, who will be a free agent after the season, brings into question what the Sox may do with Brian Johnson, who frankly has pitched pretty well when given the opportunity. His 3.81 ERA is darn good when you start comparing it to some other guys on the staff.
Maybe he moves into bullpen? Of his 26 appearances this season, 21 have been as a reliever.
As for the Yankees, they likely grabbed the second-best reliever on the market, at least if you trust the judgment of the Indians who traded for Brad Hand from the Padres.
With a ton of quality minor leaguers to dangle, the (Bore)ioles accepted a tidy three-pack highlighted by righthander Dillon Tate, the No. 9 Yankee prospect and former No. 1 draft pick (fourth overall in 2015).
According to MLB.com, it was the first time in almost 20 years that the teams had made a deal in the regular season.
“Any time you can add to a strength, cover up a weakness or whatever, when you can add good players to your team, obviously that’s a good thing,” manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com.
In return, they receiver one of the most automatic closers (139 saves since 2013) in the game. Completely over his Achilles injury, Britton hasn’t been scored on in his last seven appearance.
Think about what the Yankees now have in the pen to supplement a group of starters that seem to have trouble getting through the sixth inning.
That trend improved a bit on Tuesday when Masahiro Tanaka fired a complete-game 4-0 shutout against the Rays. It was just the second complete game of the season for the Yankees.
Now they have lefties Aroldis Chapman and Britton. Jonathan Holder, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Chad Green and David Robertson come at you from the other side. And before Wednesday, opponents were hitting only .199 against Yankees relievers.