Massarotti: Trading Clay Buchholz Doesn’t Help Red Sox In 2017

BOSTON (CBS) — So Clay Buchholz is gone, traded today in exchange for a marginal prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Incredibly, there are people celebrating this.

Oh, you short-sighted fools.

Let’s start here: when did it become desirable for the Red Sox to shed salary for the purposes of staying below the luxury tax threshold? They’re the Red Sox, people. They have more money than most organizations in baseball. Buchholz is due $13.5 million in 2017 – a bargain by modern major league standards – and his contract is up after next season. Most organizations might view that as some sort of expensive insurance policy, but here, in Boston, that is the cost of doing business.

The Red Sox had seven starters on the roster after the acquisition of Chris Sale, including: David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and, of course, Sale himself. Buchholz was the seventh. Trading him makes sense if you believe the Red Sox will only need five starters in 2017, and we all know that most every team needs more than five. They are likely to need seven, eight or beyond, which means Boston had as deep an arsenal of starting pitching as anyone in the game.

Don’t you see? After the Sale deal, it made more sense to keep Buchholz than it did to deal him, something the Red Sox learned last year when Buchholz went 4-1 with a 3.17 ERA in his final 11 games (including eight starts) over the final two months. Can you rely on him? Of course not. But Buchholz was always more than serviceable as middle- or back-end-of-the-rotation guy, which is what he would have been on this team.

Let’s say that again. If Buchholz is one of your top two or three starters, you’re asking for trouble. But put him down at No. 4 or below and, well, you’re likely to get something out of him during the regular season.

If the Red Sox were worried about the glut of pitchers in their rotation, they could have solved the “problem” by moving someone to the bullpen, most notably Pomeranz, who has been a more effective reliever than starter, especially in the American League. They could have found a way to stash Steven Wright, be it as a long man or with a phantom injury. They could have held onto as many arms as possible.

Think about it: earlier this month, upon acquiring Sale at the winter meetings, president of baseball operation Dave Dombrowski said that when a team has a chance to win, you “go for it.” Trading Buchholz does nothing to support that assertion, unless the Sox think A-Ball infielder Josh Tobias (whom they acquired in the Buchholz deal) is going to help them win a championship in 2017.

Now the real rub: When did Sox fans and/or critics decide that the Sox couldn’t pay a luxury tax, even at 50 percent, for any amount over $195 million? What a crock. And before anyone starts talking about draft-pick penalties for exceeding the tax, well, it certainly doesn’t seem like Dombrowski has had any regard for the Red Sox farm system over the last 12-15 months, when he has dealt away many of the team’s best organizational players for pickups like Pomeranz and Tyler Thornburg.

Look, we all get it. Sale is in, Buchholz is out. That’s an upgrade. But if the Sox were truly looking to “go for it,” in 2017, wouldn’t they have been better off keeping both?

More from Tony Massarotti
Comments

One Comment

  1. No is the answer to your question. they have the right to not want to pay a tax for a question mark for the last 3 plus years. I agree with them and we still have 3 plus months before the season starts… period.

  2. Mazz talking that BS now, but I’m sure had the Sox kept Buchholz and he was either a) getting lit up by opposing lineups or b) taking multiple stints on the DL, Mazz would be the first to say the Sox should trade or DFA him

  3. James Harper says:

    This was the same guy hollering about trading him or just cutting him last year. This move gets rid of a head ache and also sets the sox up to improve their roster at the trade deadline. Much more financial flexibility. I like that we kept Pomeranz too. He can move back into the ‘pen, where clay wasn’t too experienced, despite his varying level of success in the role last year. The one rub is, I’d like to have scooped up a Pitcher in return, rather than a 2b

  4. Erik Jager says:

    Mazz, you are wrong. The Red Sox had to get rid of him. The luxury tax was going to hurt them. Now they can make some an in-season moves or pick up a cheap reliever. Where were they going to put him? They would have DFA Heath, Elias, Bryce, Rutledge, or somebody else. There was not a million of takers for him. If they did not pick up his option then he would have struggled to find a moderately decent contract. An injury prone pitcher with a 4.76 ERA can be replaced easily. With a 13.5 Millions contract way overpriced. Mzz, you are short sight fool. I am surprise with you because I generally have respected.

  5. Gary Porter says:

    Wrong way Maz,

    Always on the opposite pole. It was time to cut bait. I personally like Buch, but
    he resembled Jekyl and Hyped in terms of his pitching outings. The cash outlay
    did not measure up to his current worth for this Boston team. I even liked the
    guy, but due his elongated future tooth it was a solid business move. Even for
    a bag of balls. I would liked more in return but he is in rental mode this year.
    He is in the National league now and who knows, if he turns a corner he might
    have another pay day. I am rooting for him but I also wanted him gone. The
    weird thing is this is really a new beginning now for the Red Sox now. If we look
    at what is in the cupboard now it is really stacked with goodies. There may
    be a morsel (left) to be added.

  6. Hey Tony, No who sucks worse than you? Nobody.

  7. Jim Long says:

    There’s never such a thing as “too much pitching.” Clay would have been a quick fix when one of the starters falters in the early innings. He could have potentially given 3-4 strong innings of early relief. But then again what do I know………………

  8. Tony has this right. “Follow the money”. Clearly we are worse off without ClayB. He was a key arm down the stretch to make the post season.What is the urgency to be under the CBT? Show me the numbers. I suspect Sox making money hand over fist.

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