The big splash last year was the $217 million invested in David Price.
This time, Boston Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski dealt the $63 million man, and then some.
Mr. President is not timid with his club.
In the span of a few hours, Dombrowski traded away four of the Red Sox top eight prospects, including infielder Yoan Moncada, whom Boston had spent $63 million to sign.
Also gone are top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, shortstop Mauricio Dubon and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe – all ranked among Boston’s top eight by Baseball America.
“We gave up some good young talent,” Dombrowski said during his press conference, which was broadcast in New England.
The reason is obvious.
“This (gives) us a significant chance to win.”
The “this” is the addition of All-Star ace Chris Sale, along with reliever Tyler Thornburg, who will be slotted in the eighth-inning role.
Risky moves? All the big ones are.
Good moves? Definitely.
Now wait. Before you dig up that column in this space from last Sunday – the one titled “Red Sox likely to pass on Sale” – let me explain.
The speculation last Sunday was that the White Sox wanted center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., as well as a major league-ready pitcher (I speculated Eduardo Rodriguez), plus Kopech and another prospect.
I didn’t like that deal because that weakened the major league club, especially the loss of Bradley.
But this trade? The White Sox get Moncada, Kopech, Basabe and Class A reliever Victor Diaz.
To land Thornburg from Milwaukee, Boston traded Dubon, utility corner fielder Travis Shaw and rookie league pitcher Josh Pennington.
Seven players for two?
But did you look at the numbers? Sale has a career 3.00 ERA, with an average of 203 innings the past five seasons. Plus, he’s 27.
Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last year with 90 strikeouts/25 walks in 67 innings.
Now did you look at the rest of the numbers? Sale’s contract, with options, runs through 2019. Thornburg is not eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season.
This was not just a trade for “now” but also the near future.
Boston has its best players under contract for a while. All the everyday players except backup outfielder Chris Young, is signed through at least 2019.
All the key pitchers are signed through at least 2019, except for Drew Pomeranz and closer Craig Kimbrel (both through 2018) and Clay Buchholz (through 2017).
Of course, Buchholz is trade bait now, given some teams’ desperation for starting pitching.
So Dombrowski not only leaves the core of this team intact, but they could be together for at least three years.
Only three years you say?
“In baseball, four years down the road is an eternity in many ways,” Dombrowski said. “So you need to take advantage of that opportunity.
“You keep going for it as much as you possibly can.”
Going for it meant a significant raid on the farm system.
Here is some of what Boston gave up:
n Moncada, 21, is the prize. He is the prototypical five-tool player. In Portland last year, he batted .277 with a .910 OPS and 11 home runs in 45 games. But there was concern when Moncada, a switch-hitter, faced left-handers. He hit only .167/.691.
Called up to the majors for eight games, he batted .211/.513 with 12 strikeouts in 19 at-bats. Moncada was rushed. Give him a chance to work out the kinks in Triple-A and he could emerge a star.
n Kopech, 20, has a fastball that hits 100 mph with a solid slider. In 11 games for Salem, he struck out 82 and walked 29 in 52 innings. He had dominant stuff, and was going to showcase it in Portland.
n Dubon, 22, batted .339/.909 in Portland. He is obviously blocked by Xander Bogaerts’ presence and looked to be a utility player, albeit a very good one.
n Basabe, 20, may become a five-tool player, but has a way to go.
The one gamble is the loss of Shaw (.242 average/.726 OPS, 16 home runs). But after the two trades Tuesday, the Red Sox then signed free agent first-baseman Mitch Moreland (.233/.720, 22 home runs).
Still, without Shaw, the Red Sox are placing a lot of trust in a comeback by third baseman Pablo Sandoval who, by reports from the Red Sox, is in terrific shape – ah, the optimism of December.
But there is reason for much optimism. Dombrowski has delivered. This is a young team, with established players, built to win.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: