The Craig Kimbrel trade has done a good job of dividing Red Sox fans. All are glad to have the closer on the team, but opinions on the cost run seem to run the gamut from "who cares?" to "fire Dombrowski!" hitting every stop in-between.
No matter where they land on the deal, however, Sox fans should at least be able to agree on this: Dave Dombrowski chose the lesser of the two evils. The other evil, in this case, being Aroldis Chapman.
As with Kimbrel, nobody would object to having Chapman on the team. It's hard not to be interested in a player with a career 2.17 ERA and 15.4(!!!) K/9. Chapman is
one of the most electrifying arm in the game today, and is probably the game's best reliever.
But it all comes down to price, and while we don't know for sure what Chapman will eventually cost, Nick Cafardo dropped this bit of information in his Sunday notes:
The Reds listened to Boston's pitch for Chapman but required more than the Red Sox offered for Kimbrel, and the Sox weren't comfortable going the extra mile for a pitcher who can become a free agent after 2016
If it sounds crazy--Chapman, after all, is only under contract for one more year--that's because it is. The Reds are not always the most reasonable of teams to deal with, and this seems to be a pretty prime example of how far out there they can get. With the Kimbrel deal, the Padres landed a potential top-50 type in Manuel Margot to go with the fast-rising Javier Guerra, journeyman Carlos Asuaje, and a solid young arm in Logan Allen. The Reds expected more, and frankly, it's hard to hear that without assuming they had their sights on one of Boston's big four prospects in Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Anderson Espinoza. They may have even been after some of the young talent already in the majors!
The Red Sox make their Rule 5 protections
With a slightly weaker top-half of the system this year, Boston's Rule 5 protections are a bit more boring this year.
Of course, what the Reds want and what they'll get are two very different things. At the end of the day, there's a compensatory draft pick in it for them if they stick it out, but with Cincinnati going nowhere fast in the NL Central, they're very likely to be better off swinging him for what they can get now than picking up, say, the 32nd best player in the draft.
Maybe someone does pay their price, but more likely the Reds will be the ones coming down to meet the market. If that happens, it's possible Chapman will go for less than Kimbrel. Which only makes sense, since he's under control for one third the time and is not three times the pitcher. Either way, though, Dombrowski was apparently unwilling to wait and see on that market given the possibility of a protracted trade saga with Cincinnati's high prices leaving the market much less flush and the Red Sox still without bullpen help should they miss on Chapman.
And for those who feel the Kimbrel price was too steep, this might help to take some of the sting away. Or, at least, provide a sense of relief that what would have been a true disaster trade was avoided.