Eovaldi, acquired in a trade last July, was one of the final pieces of the championship roster. Dombrowski also acquired David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale and J.D. Martinez in his tenure, winning division titles in 2016 and 2017 along the way.
But the aggressive maneuvering that secured a title also left the franchise loaded in payroll commitments yet again. Henry was once a limited partner in George Steinbrenner’s Yankees ownership group, and while he is the antithesis, personality-wise, of the raging Boss, his cold calculation suggests a similar impatience: You can spend my money, but if you waste it, beware.
Epstein was in charge when the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford, and Cherington presided over deals for Rusney Castillo, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Dombrowski leaves with Sale, Price and Eovaldi owed a combined $79 million for each of the next three seasons. All have dealt with arm trouble this year, to go with their combined 4.57 earned run average.
The deal for Sale, 30, is particularly worrisome. He starts a five-year, $145 million extension next season, and has broken down in each of the last two summers. History offers only one significant starter with Sale’s unusual 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame since 1900: Slim Harriss, who went 8-11 for the 1928 Red Sox, at age 30, and never pitched again.
With little room to build on what was the majors’ highest payroll last winter, Dombrowski reinvested in Eovaldi (four years, $68 million) and left the bullpen alone. He did not improve it at the trading deadline, either, and a brawny offense could not slug its way into the playoffs.