The Red Sox traded Chris Sale to the Braves on Saturday, one of two moves President of Baseball Operations Craig Breslow made over the weekend. Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Craig Breslow Era has finally begun.

Yes, Breslow was hired as chief baseball officer in October, but we really hadn’t seen him in action until the final days of 2023.

In a stunning 24 hours, Breslow signed free-agent pitcher Lucas Giolito and traded Chris Sale to the Atlanta Braves for infield prospect Vaughn Grissom.

The Giolito signing is the first multi-year contract given out by Breslow, and was met with mixed reviews.

Many fans were unimpressed by the move, thinking a two-year, $38.5 million deal was too much for a pitcher who gave up an American League-high 41 home runs last year. After posting a 3.79 ERA with the White Sox through 21 starts last season, Giolito’s 2023 season fell apart after a July trade last season. He went 1-5 with a 6.89 ERA with the Angels, giving up 10 homers in 32 2/3 innings. At the end of August he was one of five players released by Los Angeles in an unprecedented salary dump, and was even worse with the Guardians where he went 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA and 11 more homers in 30 2/3 innings.

Others point to a pitcher who finished 11th or higher in the AL Cy Young Award voting in three straight seasons from 2019-2021. They point out that last year’s struggles came as he was dealing with a divorce as well as being dealt twice in a five-week span. Most of all they point out that he had been a dependable starter for Chicago, and has thrown 161 or more innings in each of the last five full 162-game seasons.


Not one Red Sox pitcher reached that level in 2023.

If the Red Sox can help him regain the form he showed prior to 2022, and for the first four months of last season, Giolito should be a solid addition to a rotation that delivered the second-fewest innings of any AL team last season. They believe the trio of Breslow, pitching coach Andrew Bailey and director of pitching Justin Willard will help him optimize his stuff and regain his potential.

The Sale trade lowers the team’s payroll and brings back a player who could be the long-term solution at second base, a position that had been filled by numerous candidates over the past two years. Grissom is only 22 years old and has shown an ability to hit at all levels. A shortstop with suspect range, his defense has been the issue. The Sox expect it to be less of a concern at second base.

We can only assume there are more moves to come. The Sox were one or two starters shy of where they want to be, and that doesn’t change with Giolito essentially replacing Sale. There are still plenty of free-agent pitchers available.

Will Breslow address the pitching through signings or trades? He has built up an already robust farm system with several deals over the past two months. And last week’s rumors that the Sox were interested in outfielder Teoscar Hernandez would give them a glut of outfielders.

Hernandez, a right-handed hitter with a career .606 slugging percentage at Fenway Park, would make it easier for Breslow to put together a package of prospects centered around Jarren Duran or Ceddanne Rafaela and use it to land a pitcher like Miami’s Jesus Lazardo (3.58 ERA, 178 2/3 innings last season) or another pitcher from a team looking to lower payroll.


Winter Weekend, the Red Sox annual fanfest, is just over two weeks away. Last year’s event was noteworthy because of the boos heard by team ownership and top baseball exec Chaim Bloom.

A year later, Bloom is gone. Breslow is the fourth person to hold the job in 13 years. If history tells us anything, he will have to build a contender quickly.

Giolito doesn’t make the Sox a favorite to win anything. Yet it could be the first in a series of moves that gets the Red Sox going in the right direction after three last-place finishes in the last four years.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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