THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us. As you know earlier today, the Red Sox acquired left-hander Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for four players: right-handed pitchers Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz, infielder Yoan Moncata and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe. Here today we have Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager John Farrell to take your questions.
Q. Dave, could you talk about how quickly this trade all came together and how hard was it to trade some of the prospects you traded today?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: Well, I guess you can look at it, at quickness in a couple of ways. At times we've talked about Chris Sale throughout the last couple of years. We really didn't have any ongoing conversations. We had the CBA being negotiated and I think a lot of things were on hold.
I got a call Friday night when I got back home 6:00 from Rick asking if we were going to be in -- that he was going to move him, he felt, at this point. After the CBA they were committed to making some moves in the organization, did we have interest. I said, Well, of course we have interest in Chris Sale, anybody in baseball would have interest in Chris Sale. It would be a matter of what you were looking to acquire and we talked a little bit.
He said, Well, we're going to get away from some of the things that we've asked for in the past.
I said, Well, we're prepared to give up a lot, which we know. And we went through some of the names. He talked to me Friday night, kind of put one thing in motion, if we would give up one player. Called me again Saturday, we had another name. And then we talked numerous times over the last few days.
So it accelerated, started on Friday with this deal. As far as the players we gave up, first of all, in Rick's case, I tip my cap, very professional, handled the situation well, very direct. We want back and forth, made calls when he said he would, so I tip my cap to him, he did his homework. This is one of these deals where we're absolutely thrilled to have Chris Sale on board with us. We feel it gives us a chance to win now. He's under contract for three years. Our rotation, we feel, is very strong. We think we have solidified our bullpen earlier in the day.
We gave up some good, young talent and there is no question. We gave up two of the better prospects in baseball in Moncata and Kopech. We liked the other two guys, but it came down to a point where we thought this gave us a significant chance to win. And you never can tell what happens if you can, first of all, make it to the postseason. But, secondly, if you get there, do you progress from there.
We saw last year we did not, but we think it gives us the best chance to do it. And it's not just for a one-year type of deal. But if I was in Rick's case, I would be very happy with the return I got because those are good, young players.
Q. Dave and John, just a thought on having Chris now in this rotation to go with Price and company and what it means to the team and to you, John, going forward and what can you tell us about Chris Sale from your perspective?
JOHN FARRELL: Well, the best thing is we don't have to face him across the field anymore. I think that's number one. But I think we've found ourselves in a great position to acquire such an elite starter. He deepens the rotation, to go alongside with David and Rick, Eddie, Drew. We've got a deep rotation.
But I think the one thing that this is a reminder and certainly a repeat is how aggressive our ownership and Dave are going to be to allow us and enable us at field level with a chance to win every year we take the field.
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: Well, really to echo what John just said, it deepens the rotation, it makes our bullpen strong, thankful to our ownership to give us the opportunity to do the same thing that we did. Our staff did a tremendous job. I think really it puts us in a spot where we go out there and feel good about our ball club. You never can tell what takes place, I see that Joe Maddon is over there, we would like to duplicate what he did last year, that's your ultimate goal year in and year out and that's what you want to accomplish.
Q. Obviously Chris Sale adds a lot to the rotation, but what is it specifically that he brings that makes him such a dominant pitcher?
JOHN FARRELL: In between the lines, he pitches with an edge. His numbers and performance speak for themselves but I think there is maybe a persona that he projects certainly across the field. That's what you feel. That's the image that the team will reflect or take with him when he's on the mound. And that edge and that competitive nature that he has, I think anytime you can add those types of personalities to go along with the abilities, you're getting the premium type of players that you hope to have on your roster.
Q. John, talk about what you accomplished today with the moves that Dave was able to do? How much better of a team are you today than you were last year when you were good enough to win the division?
JOHN FARRELL: The one thing that's been so forthright about Dave is that there is really no hiding behind the fact of what our needs are and how we're going to go about to achieve it. We've been able to do that. We've improved our pitching staff on the whole, we know that.
So in light of David Ortiz' retirement, how we were going to improve our team, we felt like pitching was the priority and really have been able to do that over the last couple of days here.
Q. Dave, you certainly faced questions about David Price's postseason history when he was signed last offseason. Chris doesn't have any. Was that a concern at all as to how he might respond to the postseason pressures?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: Not really, I think that Chris Sale is a premium pitcher, he's pitched in big games, won big games. When I talked to him on the phone, I said it would be nice to have you win games for a club I'm with rather than sticking it to us on a consistent basis. I know how tough he is out there. You still have to go out there -- I never know what's going to happen when a guy pitches, but I like my chances when he takes the mound at anytime of year.
Q. This being a notoriously thin free agent starting pitching market, you now have seven starters, realizing that you want depth. Are you now in a position where you might be able to trade a starter to address some other needs or restock the system?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: I would say perhaps, but not a necessity. As you say there is really not room for seven starters and we also have three guys we like behind that with ^ ck and Johnson. So we're deep in that regard. And as you never know you never have enough pitching, but we would at least be open minded.
Q. Are you now open for business for a hitter?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: We're looking to add an individual that we have described all along, we're really not looking for a long-term-type hitter.
I think we have improved our pitching. Sometimes you have to go about ways to improve your club in different ways. We think as good as our pitching was the second half of last year, we hope it's better. You have to still go out there and perform. We will look to add somebody that we lost, Travis Shaw, that played a role for us. I think we would look for somebody that could help us play that type of role, but I'm not sure we will go out there and still be in a position where we add those big-name type of guys.
Q. Will you be more apt to do that via trade now that you have the excess starting pitching?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: I'm not sure about that yet. I think we're open to free agency and I think we're also open to making trades.
Q. Dave, in your long career, can you think of any other times when you came close to or did trade away a number one prospect in baseball? With Moncata, the acquisition costs seemed to make him a one of a kind. How did that not complicate the deal?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: It did complicate the deal. I've gave up ones, but I've given up twos and threes and top-10s in a Cabrera type of deal. So, yes.
It's a very difficult deal to make, but I've also been in a spot where you have to give something to get something. The ability to get a Chris Sale doesn't come along that often. This is one of the best pitchers in baseball, proven. We're trying to win. There will come a day when Moncata is putting in his 15-year career that we will be saying, the Red Sox, Geez, I can't believe we traded that guy. So yes, it does complicate it.
I think the positive about it that made it easier in addition to the Sale acquisition is the amount of young players we still have at the big league level. And also I know we traded a lot of guys, but a tip of my cap to the organization, the regime, with Ben and Mike Hazen and the rest of the group that's still here, they really -- we have still some really good young players at the big league level.
You've got a guy like Rafael Devers still sitting there, you've got Sam Travis still sitting there, you've got Blake Swihart still sitting there, you've got Marco Hernandez still sitting there. And you've got a young outfield like Benintendi and Bradley and a young guy at short stop in Bogaerts and a young catcher and some young pitching. So it's not like you're sitting there and trading your only guy.
I do know that by no means are we as strong now as what we were, but I talked to our group and I think that they will meet the challenge, they're a group of talented individuals. Player development and scouting international operations, they found these players in the past and that's why we're sitting here able to make this type of trade. And I think they will go out and find some really good talent for us as we go forward. We feel good about some of the players we drafted this last year that people don't know about.
It's interesting, the number of players that people ask about that even at the lower levels where people said I don't really want to trade that guy.
So, yes, he's a great player and if he's not a tremendous player I will be very surprised. But, again, you've got to give to get and because of the talents of some of the people it makes it a little bit easier.
Q. As good as Moncata is and with the starters that you have, I don't know that people would have blamed you if you kept things the way they are. Why is it important to be aggressive now?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: I think it's a situation where when you have a chance to win, you want to give yourself every opportunity to do so, if you can improve your club. And for us this deal improved us.
I'm not sure if at the mid-season, for example, if we didn't get Pomeranz if we would have won our division. I'm not sure. Of course, Rodriguez came up at that time, too. So we really stabilized our rotation the second half of the season. But anytime you get there, short of just a total give-away of your system or making moves that you don't think are smart, I think you go for it. And the thing for us, I mean, almost all these guys are under contract for at least three years. In baseball, four years down the road is like an eternity in many ways. So you need to try to take advantage of that opportunity.
Nothing is guaranteed in life. You don't even make these moves and it doesn't mean that you're going to win by any means, but I think you keep taking a chance and going for it as much as possibly can and hopefully it works for you some day. Every one of these moves made us better. Because of the strength that the system that people built and because of the young players that we still have, I think we're still strong for many, many years.
Q. David, in a matter of hours, you traded your third baseman of the future probably on the third baseman that started last season as a regular. Does it mean that Pablo Sandoval, the guy you signed two years ago to play third base, is going to be not playing third base?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: Well, it does show where we have faith in how he has worked hard, and he's been a good player in the past. He's worked very hard this winter. He's healthy. He's been at Fort Myers the whole time at our complex just working. We feel good about where he is from a health perspective. Of course he has to do it.
When it comes to guarantees, there's no guarantees he'll play. This gentleman over here will make those decisions. But we like the place he's put himself in and I will let John speak a little bit to that.
JOHN FARRELL: I think the main thing that Pablo has done is put himself back in tremendous physical condition. We're not asking for Pablo to be anything more than he was prior to signing him, and that is a very good, everyday Major League player. He's got to go back out and earn it, and I think that's the one thing that has been -- that's the tone that has been set pretty clear to our players, going back to the first of Spring Training last year, is that you go out and perform and you're going to have opportunity.
That played out last year with Travis Shaw. But I think the challenges that Pablo has gone through, he is extremely motivated to get back to the level that he was previous.
Q. Dave, aside from Sale's dominance on the mound how much did his contract and the way that it factors into the CBA over the next couple of years that you were talking about yesterday factor into trading away Moncata and Kopech?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: I think it's a great question and it does affect your decisions. He's a good pitcher, no matter what. But he's a good pitcher that's a club-friendly contract and when you are dealing with -- I don't think in today's -- and it's been like this for a long time. I don't think you make moves on just ability, it's ability and finances that are tied together.
I think when you look at our situation, again, our goal is to if we can -- and, again, I'm not sure where we're going to end up, but if we could get below the CBT it would be great because of some of the factors involved that we discussed. And it's helpful, I don't think there is any question about it.
Q. If you guys had not acquired Sale, did you have a plan to get a marquis starter or was it Sale or nothing?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: Pretty much Sale or nothing. We didn't have any other conversations taking place because we like our rotation as it is. I really didn't think it was a big need for us. When I talked to Rick on Friday, I said, This is not really our biggest need. We have the CY Young award winner in Rick Porcello; David Price, one of the best pitchers in baseball; Steven Wright coming back, he's healthy, made the All-Star team last year; Drew Pomeranz made the All-Star team last year.
So when you look at it, Clay Buchholz pitched very well the second half of the year for us and Eduardo Rodriguez is one of the best young pitchers a lot of people don't know about yet but they will. But it's a situation that we thought that this made us that much better. But we didn't have anybody else that we were pursuing whatsoever because we didn't think there was anybody else even close to the availability that would make us better like this.
Q. The bullpen, you feel you finish already, so no more Koji?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: Correct, we did speak with Koji. He did a great job for the Boston Red Sox organization for years. Great deal of sentiment for him. We were talking to him, we had actually made him an offer a few days ago, they wanted to see what else was out there. We were in a position where we had a lot of things going on at one time.
Brian O'Halloran, our senior vice president, assistant general manager was talking to his representative all along. And we had told them something could happen and if it did we would be in a position where we would be out and he understood. So yes, we are in that position. But want to be very thankful to Koji for everything he did with our organization. But when we got Tyler Thornburg, we really like his abilities a great deal to fill that role.
Q. Dave, how close was the competition in the last 24, twelve hours, especially with the Nationals, and who heard first in the room that you got the deal done?
DAVE DOMBROWSKI: That's a good question, because I never know how close it was, you will have to ask the White Sox that question. Rick will be able to answer that question better than I can. If they're doing your job, you don't know that answer very well.
There was one week where we thought we might make the deal and Rick said, I need more time, called me back around 10:00-ish, said he would make the deal but he needed to sit down with ownership. So that was their phase of it, then there was the phase -- and everybody is happy there, we need to check medicals from all ends of it, which is never a short process. But when we finally got to it, everybody was thrilled and ecstatic in our room.