You've probably been waiting all day and following along with the up-and-down nature of the possible Wade Miley trade with the Diamondbacks, but from the sounds of it, you don't have to wait any longer. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Red Sox and D-Backs have agreed in principle to a deal that will bring Miley to Boston's rotation, in exchange for Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, and an as of yet unnamed minor leaguer.
Remember, "in principle" does not mean done. It's pretty close to done! You can probably talk as it if is done. But it is not yet done. Sean McAdam reports that it is waiting on final confirmation, which will come once the D-Backs select a minor-league player from a list presented to them by the Red Sox. According to McAdam, these are low-level minor-league players. This is coming entirely from me, not a source, but if you forced me to guess I'd think the Diamondbacks are looking at someone interesting with a high floor like Carlos Asuaje more than a high-ceiling Manuel Margot type.
It is also possible that part of the hold up is due to Thursday's Rule 5 draft. One or more of the players on the list could be eligible for the Rule 5, and there is nothing to be done at this late stage insofar as protecting those players go. The D-Backs might simply be waiting to make sure that, say, Henry Ramos clears the draft before picking him and finalizing the trade. That doesn't 100 percent fly with the "low-level player" report, but it does make sense otherwise.
The Miley deal was a complicated affair. First, the Red Sox parachuted in at the last minute to keep the Rangers from completing their own Miley progress. The Marlins were also interested, but the D-Backs reportedly pulled out of a deal with them at the last minute, and things with the Red Sox were deemed 'close." Then, no one could agree if the Sox were actually talking to Arizona, and the Marlins and Rangers supposedly both became involved again, but now, things seem to be over with. This is the first time any players have been mentioned as a return at all, and that's a positive sign. And also pretty specific for two teams who supposedly weren't talking to each other.
De La Rosa started in 18 games for the 2014 Red Sox, tossing 101-2/3 innings with an 87 ERA+. There was some promise there, but as a starter, it was mostly as a back-end type: De La Rosa's stuff was better than his results, and the lack of a third pitch ruined his efficiency as well as his effectiveness. The 2014 season also marked the first time he had topped 160 innings as a professional -- De La Rosa spent time at Triple-A as well -- despite the fact he was in his age-25 season. De La Rosa might be a useful starter in the National League, where he can face the pitchers' spot a few times per start and the level of competition is lower, but in the AL, his future was likely in relief. As a dominant reliever, mind you, but a reliever nonetheless.
As for Webster, there is still the chance he can start as well, but it would be far easier to believe that is true if he could find the strike zone with something approaching regularity. Webster has a 6.22 career ERA over 18 starts and just 88-1/3 innings, or, fewer than five per outing. He's walked 4.6 batters per nine in that stretch, and against just 5.9 strikeouts per nine. It's not quite a Bard-level disaster just yet, but you can see him unravel in slow motion just the same. The NL might be kind to him, but Chase Field will not be if he continues to leave pitches out over the fat parts of the plate during the rare occasions when he throws strikes.
This as the return for someone as useful as Miley is a bit surprising, but the Diamondbacks are in a position to take chances. Miley has averaged 200 innings per season over the course of his first three full major-league campaigns, and owns a 103 ERA+ in that span. When you consider it was actually 115 from 2012 through 2013, and that 2014 was a down year largely due to a horrid infield defense that failed him -- the D-Backs were third-worst in the majors at converting balls in play into outs, no small thing for a ground ball pitcher -- you realize the Sox bought low on an arm they desperately needed.
Miley won't replace Jon Lester, but if you think that's what he was acquired for, your head is in the wrong place. Miley can take all of his turns in the rotation, and do a good job of it while he's at it. The Red Sox now have exactly one starting pitcher they can count on to do that, and all it cost them was a couple of wild cards, one of whom was destined for bullpen work, the other possibly heading back to Rhode Island for the third time in three years.
We reserve the right to delete the previous optimism if the currently anonymous minor league player turns out to be amazing, but with De La Rosa and his tantalizing stuff involved, that seems like an unfounded fear.
If you were curious why De La Rosa and Webster were a priority, De Jon Watson, who formerly worked with the Dodgers in player development, is the current senior vice president of baseball operations for Arizona.