Mason: Grading Dave Dombrowski's 10 biggest moves in Boston

AP photo Dave Dombrowski's report card is littered with particularly high marks — and low ones. 

With Dave Dombrowski’s run with the Red Sox coming to an abrupt end, it’s hard not to be struck by the feast-or-famine nature of his hallmark moves.

When they worked, they worked really well. When they didn’t, they crashed in a big way.

Here are the grades for Dombrowski’s 10 biggest moves in Boston:

David Price signing — C

Dombrowski’s first major acquisition was also his most complicated one. In inking David Price to a record-breaking seven-year, $217 million deal, the Red Sox have gotten a mixed bag for their money.

On one hand, Price was downright dominant in the 2018 postseason.

He put the team on his back and his fingerprints are all over their World Series rings.

On the other, he’s thrown less than 110 innings in two of the last three seasons, has never been a Top 10 Cy Young finisher in Boston, and on the books at $32 million for the next three years, the Sox forfeited payroll flexibility.

Not to mention the Twitter and Dennis Eckersley distractions. It’s hard to look at Max Scherzer — who signed with the Nationals for seven years and $210 million — and not be envious.

Drew Pomeranz trade — B

It’s easy to forget how dominant Pomeranz was in the second half of 2017 — without him the Sox probably don’t win the division — but his 2018 was so bad the lefty was pulled from the rotation. Anderson Espinonza, the prospect Dombrowski dealt for him straight up, has undergone two Tommy John surgeries.

Chris Sale trade — A-

Dombrowski gave up a lot to land the All-Star, but when he’s been on, Sale has been the most dominant starter in a Red Sox uniform since Pedro Martinez. Former No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada is beginning to realize his potential, and Michael Kopech flashed before needing Tommy John, but the Sale deal is one you’d make 100 times out of 100.

Craig Kimbrel trade — A

Dombrowski’s best trade in Boston, Kimbrel came exactly as advertised. He went to three straight All-Star games, posted a 2.44 ERA in Boston and saved 108 ballgames. It’s aging quite well, too, as centerpiece Manuel Margot has struggled to get on base in San Diego, and the other pieces haven’t made any real impact.

Tyler Thornburg trade — F

Dombrowski’s worst trade in Boston, Thornburg’s career was derailed by thoracic outlet syndrome. He owned a 6.54 ERA in 42 Red Sox appearances before being released. In Milwaukee, Travis Shaw posted back to back 30-plus home run seasons before regressing this summer, and Maurico Dubon arrived at the big league level, too.

J.D. Martinez signing — A

Dombrowski slow played the J.D. Martinez situation perfectly. Recognizing that there were few other suitors for the free agent slugger, the Sox waited superagent Scott Boras out, and wound up signing Martinez to a modest five-year, $110 million deal. His rumored ask was $200 million when free agency opened. Martinez proved to be a lineup-altering bat — he legitimately filled David Ortiz’s spikes — and was instrumental in changing the clubhouse culture, too.

2018 in-season additions — B+

The Red Sox were well on their way to an AL East title, but Dombrowski elected to improve his club anyway, trading for Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ian Kinsler. Pearce wound up World Series MVP, Eovaldi became a folk hero in Los Angles, and Kinsler was fine until a hamstring injury. Losing Ty Buttrey hurt, as the reliever dealt for Kinsler has turned into a serviceable bullpen arm, but the other two deals were dynamite.

Nathan Eovaldi re-signing — D

The injury flags have always been there with Eovaldi, and the flamethrower has only given the Sox 52 2/3 innings this season. By investing four years and $67.5 million last winter — he didn’t get a formal offer from the Astros, his other chief suitor — Dombrowski may have listened to the fan base too closely. It’s proving far wiser than giving that money to Rick Porcello, though.

Chris Sale extension — D

Did the nightmare scenario of Sale leaving in free agency for the starting-pitching-starved Yankees force Dombrowski’s hand here?

Perhaps. But six months after the signing, the five-year, $145 million extension looks like an overpay, and with an inflamed elbow, Sale’s status for 2020 is still murky. Coupled with Price and Eovaldi, the Sox have a whole lot of money invested in a whole lot of question marks.

Xander Bogaerts extension — A

At six years and $120 million, Bogaerts is looking like an absolute steal.

He responded to the new deal with the best year of his life, and earlier this week became the second shortstop in history to post 30 home runs and 50 doubles in one season.

The only other was Alex Rodriguez.

If Bogaerts hit free agency this winter, he’d have likely locked up that $200 million that Martinez sought.

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Daily News and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason.

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