With the exception of the weirdly-not-yet-complete hiring of Andrew Bailey as the team’s pitching coach, new Red Sox CBO Craig Breslow has officially made his first personnel move, engineering a trade with the Seattle Mariners:
Red Sox officially announce they traded Luis Urias to Seattle for reliever Isaiah Campbell.— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) November 18, 2023
The Red Sox also non-tendered RHP Wyatt Mills, making him a free agent.
The 40-man roster is at 37.
A 26-year-old relief pitcher with 28.2 career innings pitched! Get excited, everybody!
But all snark aside, this is an interesting move. Isaiah Campbell has limited experience and, being a middle reliever, not a ton of upside. But as middle relievers go, he looks promising. He’s surrendered just 2 home runs in his 28.2 career innings (all of which came last year) and he possesses a potentially unhittable slider, which has yielded just a.137 batting average against.
But what’s even more interesting is that Luis Urias was the presumptive starting second baseman for 2024. Urias is coming off the worst year of his career and likely wasn’t going to be a major difference maker. But he’s also a young, established big leaguer who recently put up two above average offensive seasons. And — importantly for this lefty-heavy lineup — he hits right-handed. From a broad philosophical standpoint, trading a potentially productive position player in his mid-twenties for a middle reliever is rarely a good move.
Ah, but we probably shouldn't jump to judge this move in isolation. Urias’s departure leaves lead-gloved Enmanuel Valdez as the primary second base option on the roster (sorry, Pablo Reyes stans). And given how much of a problem the team defense was last year, it’s unfathomable that Valdez would now be Plan A. Moreover, Breslow has already identified right-handed bats as a priority for his offseason. So, in other words, there likely are a lot more moves coming.
This trade is the beginning of something, not the end. Now we wait and see what Breslow does next.