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Chris Sale, Bullpen Reboot, Hot Stove Checklist Addition, Sell High

  • CHRIS SALE TRADE: The Sox just got ace lefty Chris Sale for America's top prospect Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, another Basabe, and Victor Diaz.  That's a true ace for a potential superstar who clearly needs more seasoning, a golden arm who seemed to be a possible headcase, and two lottery tickets.  This is a very good trade for the Sox. While the Sox would have found room to play Moncada once he was ready, he didn't exactly fill a void with Peddy blocking him at second, Panda getting another shot at 3B this year, and 3B prospects Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec - and maybe Michael Chavis - not too far off possibly.  Moncada might not be the biggest pain felt here. After trading Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz - a trade that is looking worse these days - the trade of Kopech leaves very little high-end pitching talent in the system right now.  There is now a very large drop off after Jason Groome.  Also, the loss of Basabe, Diaz, Dubon and Pennington today just really drains the Sox' pool of talent in the minors.  Add in last year's Kimbrel trade and the Sox really have lost a lot of mid-level prospects.
  • BULLPEN MAKEUP: With today's trade for reliever Tyler Thornburg, the Sox are pretty well set in their bullpen for next year.  That's not to say they won't keep their eye on the market, but they have - on paper - a strong bullpen now: Kimbrel to close; Thornburg as the 8th inning guy; Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Robbie Ross in the 6th and 7th; Hembree and Abad as righty/lefty specialists; and Clay Buchholz as the longman/spot starter (assuming one of the 7 starters is traded before spring training).  Yes, that's one too many guys for the roster, but in the unlikely scenario where all of these guys and the 5 starters are healthy on opening day, there are worse things than the Sox having to store Barnes or Kelly in Pawtucket until a roster spot inevitably opens up (Hembree & Abad are out of options).
  • RELIEF FOR RELIEVERS: Every major league fan these days wants to have that lights-out bullpen from the 6th inning on. One might complain that Kelly, Barnes and Ross aren't at that level.  But as the season progresses, the Sox will undoubtedly add one of the best short relievers in the game to their roster by the trading deadline: Carson Smith should be getting back to full strength right as Sox enter the stretch run. A 27 year old who struck out almost 12 per 9 innings in 2015, Smith will be an ideal addition to the bullpen - which by that time will surely have an opening for one reason or another.  In addition, there's always a chance that they sign rehabbing closer Greg Holland who should also grain power as he gets back to full speed.  And there's always the off chance that super power arm prospect Michael Kopech bursts onto the scene late in the year, though I think that's highly unlikely. 
  • SELLING HIGH: In the Thornburg trade, the Sox "sold high" on three guys to get a top reliever who's under team control for a few more years.  Selling high does not mean the Sox sold lemons.  Rather, they sold three solid prospects who had breakout years this year.  Travis Shaw showed he can sometimes hit major league pitching, can handle 3B, and his tape-measure power is enticing. A guy with his power, his swing, and his dad maybe telling him how pitchers will attack him, is not a bad get for Milwaukee. In Mauricio Dubon, the Sox sent this year's breakout prospect who hit well above what had been expected of him.  With the utility role blocked by Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez, Dubon didn't have a clear path to the majors and it seems likely his ceiling remains of a borderline major leaguer. That said, it would have been nice to see the Sox play the first Honduran to reach the majors.  Lastly, the Sox gave up on a very talented rookie league pitcher who has already had arm problems.  Hon. Peter Gammons lumped him in with Anderson Espinosa and Jason Groome which got attention, but this kid, Josh Pennington, is very far away from even getting close to the majors.  This trade is a win-win.  The Sox sold high on three prospects while Milwaukee sold high on a major league reliever.
  • PABLO TIME IS BACK AGAIN: It looks like Pablo Sandoval is positioned to claim 3B for himself.  Great!  If everything goes well, we're talking about an All Star-caliber player. But, he can't hit lefties. Why isn't a right-handed hitting infielder on Dave Dombrowski's checklist?  The Sox have two left-handed hitting utility guys (Holt and Hernandez), a switch-hitting uber prospect who also can't hit lefties (Moncada), and a righthanded hitting defensive wiz who has trouble hitting "baseballs" (Marrero).  Aside from Bobby Dalbec miraculously jumping from 4th round pick to the Benintendi school of prospect, there isn't a right-handed hitting third baseman with any upside (sorry Janzten Witte) who has any chance of contributing this year.  This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye one.  The 3B free agent pool is doesn't have any solid platoon prospect.  One outside of the box idea: could Sam Travis continue to follow in Travis Shaw's footsteps and re-learn 3B which he played at Indiana?  Seems unlikely given that he's not considered all that good at first.  Or maybe the White Sox want to hand over Brett Lawrie.
  • TRADE IDEAS: The Sox should see if the Nationals have any interest in a trade of strengths: Blake Swihart for Reynaldo Lopez.  The Sox need to use either Buchholz or Pomeranz to a) restock their minor league talent or b) locate a DH who can also play the field (maybe Jay Bruce?).


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