The Red Sox have completed a trade that will send Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies according to Jon Heyman. According to Ken Rosenthal, it’s second base prospect Josh Tobias heading back Boston’s way.
Tobias isn’t really a lot to write home about. He was a tenth-round pick in 2015, and is currently only in High-A ball. He put up a decent performance in Single-A Lakewood, hitting .304/.375/.444 in 365 at bats, but did so as a 23-year-old, which just isn’t terribly impressive. He’s behind the typical schedule for a minor leaguer and isn’t a great defender. Before the season began, John Sickels deemed him only worthy of a spot in “others of note” in his top-20.
That pretty much makes this a salary dump, and that’s kind of not great. Yes, it’s nice for the Sox to get under the luxury tax, which they seem set to do now. It leaves them capable of making moves at the deadline (though the real bottleneck there is now trade-worthy talent), and lets them play more heavily in big free agent markets to come.
But Clay Buchholz, for all that some Red Sox fans love to hate him, was not the sort of player who should really be relegated to that kind of trade. Yes, he was bad in the first half of 2016, but that was right on schedule. You pretty much could’ve predicted that based on how he’s reacted to coming off injury in every single other year he’s had to do it. Just as you could also predict him later finding his rhythm, becoming a meaningful contributor, and somehow managing to finish the year with his 2016 as a whole being nearly league-average.
The same pattern, for the record, suggests the Phillies are about to get at least a few months of really good pitching from Buchholz. If he can actually stay healthy for once, it could be more, but even just half a season at the level Buchholz can provide when he’s on is worth a whole lot more than a player who was on the fringes of his franchise’s top-20.
Say what you will about Buchholz, he was, on the whole, an above-average pitcher for these Boston Red Sox over the last 10 years. Sometimes awful, sometimes amazing, and as a result, entirely frustrating. But an asset all-the-same, particularly if the Sox had been more willing to accept him for what he was and plan around his periods of ineffectiveness. He’s gone now, and for many that will bring peace of mind. But there’s every chance that the Red Sox will win fewer games overall in 2017 as a result, and Josh Tobias doesn’t really provide any confidence that they’ll pick up more in years to come due to his presence.