The Red Sox have acquired closer Craig Kimbrel from the Padres in exchange for Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje, and Logan Allen.
#RedSox send OF Manuel Margot, INF’s Javier Guerra & Carlos Asuaje, and LHP Logan Allen to Padres in exchange.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) November 14, 2015
Manuel Margot is the obvious centerpiece here for the Padres, and he's no small price to pay for a relief pitcher, even one with Kimbrel's talent. A strong defensive center fielder with exceptional speed, Margot had already made his way to the Double-A Sea Dogs last season at just 21 years of age. Whether he'll ever be more than a fringe-average hitter is in question, but he's the sort of player who will have value no matter what happens at the plate.
If Margot is the centerpiece, though, the other three names the Red Sox gave up are more than you might expect from add-ons. Shortstop Javier Guerra rocketed up the prospect rankings this season Like Margot, he's a strong defender at a valuable position. But he trades off the big wheels for some surprising pop, having clubbed 15 homers in Low-A Greenville in 2015. Logan Allen was a strong pickup from the 2015 draft, signing a $725,000 bonus despite being taken in the eighth round and having posted a 24:1 K:BB in the rookie-level GCL. Of the four, Asuaje is the least exciting, having failed to follow-up on a big 2014 season despite being a 24-year-old in Portland. Still, even he has the chance to contribute in a bench role.
And what do the Red Sox get? Well, Craig Kimbrel. You may have heard of him. He's spent most of his career leading the league the National League in saves, and in the most disappointing season of that career--last year, unfortunately--he posted a 2.58 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 59 innings. Yeah.
Look, Kimbrel is an excellent player, with pretty much as good of a contract as you can hope for from a player who's not just stuck under team control. He's locked up for the next two years, and if those go well, the Red Sox have a team option for a third. He's simply one of the best in the game at what he does, and goes a very, very long way towards solving Boston's bullpen problems.
His price also featured none of the prospects you dread the Red Sox trading. Hell, most of us had probably already more-or-less written off Manuel Margot as gone to one team or another this offseason. He's a highly ranked prospect without a clear future in Boston who is in many ways Jackie Bradley Jr. lite without the big minor league OBP.
That being said...it's a steep price to pay. Probably more than was really called for. I keep going back to this comparison, but Darren O'Day would cost the Red Sox a slightly riskier contract. Kimbrel is better, but is he that much better than O'Day to justify the price of Margot et al? I think it's hard to say he is.
Who knows, maybe they're also just going to sign O'Day, and then head out and pick up some other player with a qualifying offer to take full advantage of their loss of a first round pick. For now, though, it's hard to call this a triumph. Dave Dombrowski paid a king's ransom, and he got a king in return. It's just that said king pitches only 60 innings a year, however important. One wonders if this is really the price that needs to be paid for a top closer.