By adding superstar ace Chris Sale in a Winter Meetings blockbuster, Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski created a logjam in his team’s pitching staff. That logjam was finally addressed on Tuesday morning, when news broke that the Red Sox had traded Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor-league second baseman Josh Tobias. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was the first to report the deal.
The Phillies will also absorb the entirety of Buchholz’s contract. The Red Sox had picked up his $13.5 million club option for 2017 at the beginning of the offseason before acquiring Sale. Even then, Buchholz was not a certainty for the starting rotation thanks to the presence of Eduardo Rodriguez, Joe Kelly, and Drew Pomeranz as fellow back-end starter candidates. After the Sale trade, it made the most sense to move the 32-year-old Buchholz, who was the oldest and most expensive member of that quartet.
On the Phillies’ side, taking on Buchholz makes perfect sense as the team continues its long rebuild. Philadelphia gets to take a low-risk gamble on the inconsistent Buchholz, with the best-case scenario being that he turns into a solid trade candidate by midseason and brings back a solid prospect haul. Either way, it’s yet another short-term commitment for the Phillies, as Buchholz will be a free agent after the 2017 season.
In over 1,000 innings over 206 career games, all with Boston, Buchholz has recorded a 3.96 ERA, 4.04 FIP, and averages nearly seven strikeouts per nine innings. He saw time in both Boston’s rotation and bullpen in 2016, during which he put up a mediocre 4.78 ERA and 5.06 FIP. Buchholz’s best season came in 2013, when his 1.74 ERA over 12 starts was a key part of Boston’s run to the top of the American League and eventually the World Series.