Following today’s deal that sent veteran righty Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox to the Phillies, general managers Dave Dombrowski and Matt Klentak addressed the media about the swap from their teams’ respective points of view. Here are some of the highlights:
- For Boston, the move came now in large part because the organization wasn’t sure whether there would be a market for Buchholz (and his $13.5MM salary) if it waited until the spring, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald was among those to report. While holding onto the depth or seeking a greater return could’ve been pursued, Dombrowski explains that the team “had to be a little bit conservative.” With what he views as adequate depth in the potential MLB rotation and upper levels of the minors, he felt comfortable striking a deal. The organization intends to “sort through” its final back-of-the-rotation mix this spring, per Dombrowski (via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, on Twitter).
- While Dombrowski said that the club likes the hitting ability of the prospect acquired — 24-year-old second baseman Josh Tobias, who recently became a switch-hitter — he did also acknowledge that the luxury tax was a consideration. By shedding Buchholz’s salary, the Sox now sit comfortably below the $195MM tax line, which would allow for a re-set of the luxury tax payout scheme (which heavily penalizes teams that repeatedly exceed the threshold). While it wasn’t a “driving force” in the decision, per Dombrowski, he noted that the organization now has some added breathing room — both now and during the season — though he stressed that he does not anticipate further modifying the major-league mix over the rest of the winter.
- Further to that last point, the veteran executive made clear that the swap was not pursued to set up another acquisition, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets. “The move was not made to create the flexibility to pursue individuals that are perceived as the big names out there,” said Dombrowski. While some had posited that clearing payroll space might enable a move for star free agent Edwin Encarnacion, that doesn’t appear to be in the plans. In any event, signing him at his anticipated rate would likely push Boston right back over the tax line.
- For the Phils, adding Buchholz was actually under consideration for some time. Klentak noted that his organization had engaged the Red Sox on Buchholz as far back as last year’s trade deadline, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. The righty’s late-season improvements and the presence of Philadelphia pitching coach Bob McClure (who tutored Buchholz when he held the same role in Boston) were factors in the move. “We’re hoping that a lot of the adjustments that Clay made toward the end of this last season, he’ll be able to maintain those here working with Bob,” Klentak explained.