June 29 – What do Heathcliff Slocumb and Heath Hembree have in common besides similar names?
Both were 31-year-old righthanded relief pitchers who had set a career record in the big league when they were traded by the Boston Red Sox† Slocumb was a former all-star, Hembree a World Series champion, and both were seen as the solution to their new teams’ bullpen woes.
In hindsight, it’s clear they have something else in common as well. They were the focus of two of the largest robberies in Red Sox history.
The 1997 trade that brought Slocumb to the Seattle Mariners has long been considered one of the most lopsided professions in baseball history. Slocumb pitched unremarkable seasons and a half for Seattle, while Boston regained prospects Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe, who later became major pillars of the 2004 World Series championship team and both are now inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
That kind of fleece is pretty hard to top, but Chaim Bloom’s 2020 trade of Hembree and co-reliever Brandon Workman to the Philadelphia Phillies for novice pitchers Nick Pivetta and prospect Connor Seabold is arguably the closest Red Sox decision maker to have come since.
Pivetta, who was a sub-substitute pitcher for most of his first three years in Philadelphia, has become a mainstay for rotation and now an All-Star nominee since his arrival in Boston. After showing occasional flashes of greatness last year, Pivetta has emerged as Boston’s best pitcher in 2022.
In his last 10 starts, Pivetta has gone 8-1 with an ERA of 1.85, keeping his opponents averaging just .185 and .536 OPS over that stretch, while playing at least six innings in nine out of 10 games. He also pitched a complete game to defeat the reigning American League champion Houston Astros, and in his last two starts, surpassed fellow playoff candidates St. Louis and Cleveland to help the Red Sox achieve some of their biggest series wins to date. to achieve.
Pivetta’s dominance was especially significant with Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock all injured, and on Wednesday night he gets the ball in the club’s series final against the Toronto Blue Jays, arguably the biggest game of the regular season of the season. season so far.
Just landing a quality starting pitcher in front of a few relievers would have been enough to win the deal, but the trade looks even better considering the other parts involved.
From the Phillies perspective, they didn’t get what they hoped from the deal. Hembree threw only 9.1 innings in a Phillies uniform and registered a 12.54 ERA before signing as a free agent with the New York Mets the following offseason. Workman was no better, throwing 13.0 innings with a 6.92 ERA for the Phillies before finally making his way back to Boston. Philadelphia went 19-20 after the trade, finishing with a 7.06 bullpen ERA and missing that year’s expanded postseason field.
Pivetta, meanwhile, has thrown 253.2 innings and is counting with Boston, 19-13 with a 3.97 ERA. and that doesn’t even take into account what Seabold might contribute in the future.
While there’s no doubt that Seabold hasn’t looked great in his two big league starts so far – he was relieved by the Blue Jays during Monday’s emergency start – he has still been dominant in Triple-A this spring and has a show intriguing potential. The 21 swing and misses he generated against Toronto were the most by a Red Sox starter in a game this season, and even if you’re not sold on his potential as an MLB starter, he could still prove useful as a depth option or a potential trading piece.
It would be something if Seabold helped facilitate another major acquisition from the trade deadline, and Bloom turned two replaceable auxiliary pitchers into an All-Star caliber starter and another impact player would be the baseball equivalent of starting with a paperclip and flipping it. in a house.
But that would just be the icing on the cake. Even if Seabold never makes a meaningful contribution, this will still go down in history as an all-time trade for the Red Sox, right up there with the Slocumb deal closed nearly 25 years ago.
E-mail: [email protected]† Twitter: @MacCerullo.