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Is the Red Sox Trade for Nick Pivetta an "All-Time Fleecing?"

Nick Pivetta

When the Phillies sent pitcher Nick Pivetta in trade to the Boston Red Sox in 2020, it seemed to be the end of a failed experiment.  The Phillies received Pivetta in trade from the Washington Nationals in exchange for embattled closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Anything the Phillies got would have seemed like a lot in dumping Papelbon, whose contract would have vested another year.  But Pivetta was long thought to be in the long-term Phillies plans.  Then he wasn't.

So in 2020, the Phillies were desperate for relief pitching.  The Boston Red Sox had some they wanted to unload in Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.  So they made a trade.  The Phillies sent Pivetta and prospect Connor Seabold to the Boston Red Sox for workman and Hembree.

The results from the Phillies perspective was that both pitchers were disasters on the mound.   Workman went 1-4 with a 6.92 earned run average for the Phillies after the trade.  Hembree was 1-0 with a 12.54 earned run average.  They helped make the 2020 Phillies bullpen historically bad.

But how about from the Red Sox perspective?  Well, Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com seems to think that the trade was an "all-time fleecing":

Let's see how those six starts went.

The first two came in 2020.  In each start, Pivetta went five innings and allowed one earned run in each.  One start came against the Baltimore Orioles, when another was against the Atlanta Braves, who had already made the playoffs.  Ronald Acuna, Jr., had the day off.

So far in 2021?  Four starts:

  • Monday, April 5, vs. Tampa Bay.  Pivetta threw five innings, allowing no runs.
  • Sunday, April 11, at Baltimore.  Pivetta pitched six innings and allowed four earned runs.
  • Saturday, April 17, at Chicago White Sox.  Pivetta pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs. 
  • Thursday, April 22, at Seattle.  Pivetta pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs.

In 2021, Pivetta has walked an average of 3.5 batters per start, and struck out 4.5 batters per start.

It sounds like the Red Sox are getting from Pivetta what one might want from a back-end starter.  He's pitched through six inning a couple times, but mostly not.   He had to be removed in the fourth inning of one start.  In other words, he's been okay in that role as a back-end starter.

Let's not forget: as a Phillie, Pivetta went 19-30 with a 5.50 earned run average.  He had plenty of chances.

"All-time fleecing?" Sure, the Red Sox gave up next to nothing to get Pivetta and Seabold.  But so far Pivetta has been just okay and that tag is a little pre-mature.

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