McAdam: Clear that payroll drove Red Sox' decision to deal Buchholz

McAdam: Clear that payroll drove Red Sox' decision to deal Buchholz

In dealing from a position of strength when it came to moving one of their excess starting pitchers, the Red Sox made it clear what they were prioritizing: reducing payroll.

The Red Sox shipped veteran Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday in exchange for minor league second baseman Josh Tobias.
      
Tobias, 24, has yet to play above Single A ball and is not considered among the Phillies' Top 30 prospects, as judged by Baseball America. He has hit .301 in his minor league career after being drafted out of the University of Florida in the 10th round in 2015.
      
But the main attraction to the deal for the Red Sox was the Phillies' willingness to take on all of Buchholz's $13.5 million salary for 2017.
      
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said he saw no need to wait until later in the winter, or into spring training, before moving Buchholz.
      
“I think we have a pretty good pulse of what the market is like from clubs looking for pitchers,” he said, "as well as what pitchers are available and what clubs are willing to spend.

I thought that, at this point, it was a situation where if we canmake a deal now, it makes sense...Everything tied together where it made sense to do it now, rather than wait.”
      
Dombrowski said trying to move a sizeable contract during spring training, by which time most clubs have their budgets set, "has not been always successful. In this case, the timing fit.”

After obtaining Chris Sale earlier this month and signing free agent first baseman Mitch Moreland, the Red Sox have been searching for ways to reduce payroll in order to get under the $195 million luxury tax threshold.
      
"I can't even say for sure it was 100 percent the driving force,” said Dombrowski. "I think it always comes into play. For us, I think it's advantageous to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax), based on the basic agreement. So it's something we were hopeful of doing.
      
"It's also a situation where it creates some flexibility going forward, with some areas we want to address as the season progresses. It's always part of the equation, but for us, not a driving force.”

With the subtraction of Buchholz's salary, BaseballReference.com now estimates that the Red Sox payroll obligations for 2017 are at $194.8 million -- just under the $195 million threshold.
      
That estimate includes projected salary arbitration figures for about eight players, including Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Dombrowski took issue with that estimate, suggesting that the Red Sox are comfortably under the $195 million figure.

"I think we would be under (if the season started today),” he said, "and we do not have to do anything at all in that regard. In fact, it gives us flexibility to do some things if we want to add.”

Dombrowski said the Sox received inquires on a number of starters, but hinted that team control with the likes of Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez made it less likely that the Sox would consider moving one of those.

"As we talked to clubs,” he said, "for us, the one that made most sense was dealing Clay. The others have some longer time (of control); (Buchholz) was in his last year (before free agency). But it was our choice to pursue this more so than some of the other guys.”

Buchholz's career in Boston was marked by inconsistency and frequent injury setbacks. After tossing a no-hitter in his second big league start, Buchholz experienced massive swings in performance.

Beginning in 2007, he compiled a 81-61 mark with a 3.96 ERA. An All-Star selection in both 2010 and 2013, he never managed to make 30 starts in a single season or reach 200 innings.
      
In 2016, he pitched himself out of the rotation in late May, before returning from an exile to the bullpen in the final two months, going 5-1 with a 2.80 ERA after July 27.      
      
He was longest tenured pitcher in the organization and only Dustin Pedroia had spent more time with the Red Sox.

"He was very understanding and thankful,” said Dombrowski, who spoke with Buchholz to inform him of the deal. "I thanked him for everything he did in the organization. He was understanding of the situation. He enjoyed his time here. He thought also maybe
it was a spot where a change of scenery, a fresh opportunity, isn't always a bad thing.”
      
The Phillies have stockpiled a number of veterans a year away from free agency (Jeremy Hellickson, Howie Kendrick, Pat Neshek and Buchholz), which could make them big players at the July trade deadline.
      
Dombrowski said what interested the Sox in Tobias was "basically, he's a good hitter. He recently took up switch-hitting. But we really like his bat. We think he has a chance to hit as he continues to  progress up the ladder. So that's his real plus.”

Tanaka outduels Sale and Yankees beat Red Sox, 3-0

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Tanaka outduels Sale and Yankees beat Red Sox, 3-0

BOSTON - New York Yankees starters failed to record a complete game in all of 2016 - the first time in franchise history that's happened.

Masahiro Tanaka ended that slump this season before April was up.

Tanaka pitched a three-hitter to outduel Chris Sale and earn his first shutout since 2014, and the Yankees beat Boston 3-0 on Thursday night.

Tanaka (3-1) struck out three and threw only 97 pitches for his fifth career complete game - his first since Aug. 15, 2015, which was also the last for New York.

"I knew that we were facing a good pitcher in Chris Sale. Knew how important one run could be, so I tried to go out there and put up zeroes," said Tanaka, who earned his 10th win in his last 11 decisions dating to last season. "A lot of people thought Chris Sale had the upper hand, the way he was pitching."

Tanaka retired the last 14 batters he faced and only allowed one runner to reach second base as the Yankees earned their fifth straight victory over the rival Red Sox. Aaron Hicks had two hits and scored twice, and Matt Holliday had two hits and two RBIs.

Sale (1-2) nearly matched Tanaka most of the way, allowing only one unearned run over the first eight innings before giving up three straight singles to start the ninth, when the Yankees added two more runs.

"We had a chance going into the ninth," he said. "I just completely took the wind out of the sails."

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Tanaka spoke before the game of the challenge of facing Sale.

"He went toe to toe with Chris Sale," manager Joe Girardi agreed. "He knew he couldn't afford to give up a whole lot of runs. (There was) more pressure on him, in a sense, and he really rose to the occasion."

 

BUNTS

Sale is 4-2 with a 1.31 ERA in eight career starts against Yankees. ... Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees did not reach base for the first time in 26 games stretching to the end of the 2016 season. ... The starters are the top two on the all-time list for strikeout-to-walk ratio since 1900 among pitchers with at least 500 innings pitched. Tanaka had a 4.94 K/BB ratio entering the game, and Sale's was 4.83.

 

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: INF Didi Gregorious was the designated hitter in a 10:15 a.m. intrasquad game in Tampa. He got four at-bats: two groundouts and a lineout before homering to right off RHP Juan De Paula in his last at-bat.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia returned after missing three games and a rainout after being spiked in the left leg by Baltimore's Manny Machado.

 

UP NEXT

Yankees: Return home to open a three-game series against the Orioles. CC Sabathia (2-1) pitches for New York against Baltimore's Kevin Gausman (1-2).

Red Sox: Welcome the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to Fenway Park for the first time since 2014. Drew Pomeranz (1-1) will face Jake Arrieta (3-0).

Carson Smith 'had to take a step back' in recovery from Tommy John

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Carson Smith 'had to take a step back' in recovery from Tommy John

Neither set-up man the Red Sox traded for under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith, is throwing off a mound presently.

Smith, on his way back from Tommy John surgery, felt soreness after throwing a bullpen session and is back to doing long toss. 

"He’s had to slow down," Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday. "Once he got on the mound with some aggression and good intensity, was throwing the ball well. And as a result there’s been some soreness that has kind of reared its head. So have had to back him off, back into long toss, he’s thrown out to about 110 feet here today. We’re hopeful that in the very near future that mound progression resumes.

"The unique thing about Tommy John recovery is that every situation is going to be different. In this case, we’ve had to take a step back a little bit and get back to flat ground."

Smith is in Boston as part of a previously scheduled meet-up with the team, Farrell said. When the season began, Smith was rehabbing in Florida. He was put on the 60-day disabled list on Thursday, a formality that opened up a 40-man roster spot for new acquisition Chase d'Arnaud.

Smith was put on the disabled list on April 3, so he can return June 2 at the earliest, but may now need more time.

Thornburg (right shoulder impingement) is building up his long-toss distance.

In other injury news, Brock Holt (vertigo) may begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday or Saturday, Farrell said.