NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The first blockbuster deal of the winter did not involve the Yankees. But it most certainly will impact them, perhaps for years to come.
The defending AL East champion Red Sox added to an already strong rotation yesterday afternoon when they landed stud lefthander Chris Sale from the White Sox.
“That was a blockbuster, that was a ‘wow,’ ” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said shortly after the deal became official. “They gave up a lot and they got a lot. Boston’s like the Golden State Warriors now in baseball. They got their Durant and their Green and Thompson and Curry. It was a big one.”
The White Sox received four prospects, led by infielder Yoan Moncada and righthander Michael Kopech. Baseball America rated Moncada, 20, the top prospect in the sport in 2016. The Yankees bid for Moncada, a native of Cuba, and were a favorite to land him before negotiations fell apart early in 2015.
Outfielder Luis Basabe and righthander Victor Diaz also will go to the White Sox, who were having serious discussions with the Nationals about Sale before the Red Sox always aggressive president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, swept in.
“When he targets a guy,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, “he gets him.”
Before last season, Dombrowski created significant offseason ripples by bringing in lefthander David Price via free agency and closer Craig Kimbrel via trade.
The Red Sox went 93-69, winning the East by four games over the Orioles and Blue Jays. Led by Rick Porcello, the AL Cy Young Award winner, Boston tied the Mariners for third in the AL with a 4.00 ERA.
The 27-year-old Sale, who has three years and $38 million left on his current deal, is 74-50 with 3.00 ERA in his career, including 4-1, 1.17 against the Yankees. He went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA last season.
Earlier yesterday, the Red Sox solidified their bullpen by acquiring hard-throwing righthander Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. He is expected to pitch the eighth inning to set up for Kimbrel. Thornburg posted a 2.15 ERA with 13 saves in 67 appearances last season. The Red Sox also reportedly agreed on a one-year contract with free-agent first baseman/DH Mitch Moreland.
Cashman said earlier in the offseason he did not think the Yankees were one player away from a title, and thus not interested in a “back up the truck” move involving top prospects. The Yankees have what many in the game consider a top-five farm system. They plan on staying with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner’s mandate of seeing how many of those prospects can bear fruit.
“I think we could play on a lot of things because we have a lot of prospects people desire, but we desire them, too,” Cashman said. “And I think we’d like to hold, in most cases, a number of those guys for what we’re building towards.”
The Yankees agreed to terms Sunday with DH Matt Holliday. They are going hard after free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, their first choice because he’s proven he can pitch in New York and because the Yankees wouldn’t lose a draft pick by signing him. Cashman said he also has an offer out to Kenley Jansen, who had 47 saves and a 1.83 ERA for the Dodgers.
“They’re both exceptionally talented individuals and they’re both going to be rewarded for that talent regardless of where they decide to play,” Cashman said. “It would be nice if somebody picks us at some point, but if not, we’ll adjust.”
The Yankees will see a lot more of Chris Sale now that he’s changed his Sox from White to Red. His career numbers against the Yankees:
IP 53 2⁄3