Reliever Chris Carpenter of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
Our long national nightmare is over -- well, sort of -- as compensation for Theo Epstein moving on to the Chicago Cubs was announced this morning. Chris Carpenter will be coming to the Red Sox in exchange for Epstein, but the Cubs will also be sending a future player to be named later to Boston, and the Red Sox will be sending a PTBNL of their own to Chicago to complete the deal.
That last bit, you can only assume, is happening because it's funny, and because they can. But it turns out that it needed to be a player trade in order for the transaction to go through.
Carpenter will use up a 40-man roster spot, but, unlike earlier in the winter, that won't mean the Red Sox have to designate anyone for assignment. Alex Speier points out that today is the first day that the 60-day disabled list can be put to use, meaning John Lackey, Bobby Jenks, and Daisuke Matsuzaka can be cleared from the 40.
Carpenter was a seventh-round pick of the Tigers back in 2004, but elected not to sign. The Yankees then picked him in 2007, and finally the Cubs both drafted and signed him in 2008. He would play in Rookie and Low-A ball as a 22-year-old. His top season statistically as a prospect was 2009, when he posted a 2.3 K/BB across three levels with a 2.82 ERA and 130 innings pitched.
The Cubs converted him to relief last year, and the experiment didn't go so well. His walk rate jumped from 3.8 per nine in 2010 to 5.7 per nine, but he also threw just 42 innings in the minors -- the sample isn't large enough to panic over either way, especially since he missed 30 days with an undisclosed injury. The Red Sox haven't announced if Carpenter will convert back to starting, or if he will remain in relief.
In last year's Top 11 prospect list, Kevin Goldstein made mention of Carpenter's possible need for a relief role:
While Carpenter smoothed out his delivery after a Tommy John procedure in college, there's still considerable effort in it, leading to lapses in control. Between the history of arm troubles and the electricity in his stuff out of the bullpen, more scouts than ever want to see him as a reliever.
That's in the section labeled "The Bad," but there was still considerable good to mull over, too:
Carpenter has a classic power frame and the repertoire to match, beginning with a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 97, a velocity he was parked at when pitching in shorter stints. He's refined his power breaking ball into a true slider that flashes plus, and has some feel for a changeup.
Some health problems and his lack of control turned 2011 into something of a lost year, but he does have excellent velocity and a three-pitch repertoire of note. There could be a pretty good reliever hiding in Carpenter's right arm, or maybe advanced bats are just too much for him. Goldstein rated Carpenter as the #14 prospect in the Cubs' system this year, but he would rank lower in Boston's less shallow farm.
It's not Matt Garza, but it was never going to be Matt Garza. There were prospects we would have rather had, for sure, but without much precedent, this was never going to be a process that was going to please everyone. Carpenter is an intriguing arm, and one who might help out in Boston as soon as this summer. He could also turn into nothing, but if the Red Sox are winning, we'll forget about him like so many other failed prospects. We're a fickle, yet easily pleased, people.
Now, we wait to see who the players to be named later are, in Compensation 2: Electric Boogaloo, in theaters by April 15.