‘Twas the night before the trade deadline and all through Fenway, not an executive was stirring, except Dave Dombrowski. Sorry, that doesn’t rhyme.
Dealin’ Dave continued his trading ways Monday, acquiring second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Angels in exchange for a few minor leaguers.
Here’s how the trade worked out for both sides.
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Red Sox: B
This move makes sense and doesn’t at the same time.
The Red Sox couldn’t afford to keep going without help at second base with Dustin Pedroia (knee) looking more and more likely to miss the remainder of the season.
Kinsler is having a down year at the plate; he played to a .710 OPS (95 OPS+) in 91 games with the Angels. He has been better since the start of June, though, hitting .259 with 10 home runs in 48 games. That’s more of the Kinsler that fans have come to expect.
Even though the bat is lagging, Kinsler is still a great defensive second baseman, posting 10 defensive runs saved in 2018, per Baseball Reference.
The 36-year-old can also be a free agent after the season, but the Red Sox won’t have to worry about second base for the future — Pedroia is still under contract through 2021 and there will be plenty of free-agent options in the offseason.
Here’s where the deal doesn’t make sense: Kinsler has been very bad against left-handed pitching in 2018. He’s hitting just .200 with a .515 OPS in 43 games (106 plate appearances), and while the Red Sox have been better vs. left-handers of late, it’s still the weakest point of their offense.
Brian Dozier seemed like the better trade target for the Red Sox, considering he has an OPS of .722 vs. left-handed pitching this year, but defense plays and Kinsler is a far better defender than Dozier (minus-6 defensive runs saved in ’18). The question, then, is: Is the defense worth the trade-off? Obviously, the Red Sox think so and are hopeful that Kinsler can continue his resurgence at the plate.
Of the available second baseman, Kinsler makes a lot of sense based on his reputation and career numbers, and the Red Sox are certainly hoping he can provide more power and Kinsler-esque numbers in the bandboxes of the AL East.
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With the way the Angels’ farm system has suffered through the years, any time they can pluck a pitching prospect from another team is a victory.
Trading Kinsler was a no-brainer for the Angels. As mentioned, this offseason will offer second base free-agent options — Daniel Murphy, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, to name some — and LA also has a top-five prospect, Jahmi Jones, potentially ready to reach the majors within the next year.
Ty Buttrey, a minor league reliever the Red Sox sent to Anaheim, is already on LA’s list of top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline (he’s No. 27). He boasts a high-90s fastball but no true secondary out pitch. He also has had control issues (3.9 BB/9 lifetime). Scouts believe the 25-year-old will end up as a middle reliever in the majors.
LA also acquired Williams Jerez, 26, who has yet to make it to the majors. He pitched to a 3.63 ERA for Triple-A Pawtucket this season and doesn’t rank on the Angels’ top-30 list.
The Angels know where they are in 2018 — another mediocre year that was once promising with the dominance of Shohei Ohtani and some guy named Trout. They don’t have much else to move, so this will probably be the biggest deal they make at the deadline.
Dombrowski did what was necessary to reinforce the infield, which is refreshing for a team that’s playing near-.700 baseball. It’s exactly what you want a GM or team president to do: identify a weakness and fix it heading into the dog days of the season. While there may have been better options available, the Red Sox didn’t give up too much to secure Kinsler.
The Angels parted with a free-agent-to-be and picked up some prospects, including one who slid into their top 30. While they still don’t have a great farm system — it’s middle of the pack by most rankings — GM Billy Eppler knows what he has to do to replenish it, and this is a good start.
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