Dombrowski, Kimbrel on the trade

Here is a transcript of tonight’s conference call in which the Red Sox announced the acquisition of four-time All-Star closer

Dave Dombrowski started out by recognizing the events of the day:

“I just want to acknowledge the tragic events that took place in Paris today and are taking place as we speak. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people and those that have been affected by those attacks. It just didn’t seem appropriate to start talking baseball without addressing what’s taking place across the Atlantic. We really were somewhat thinking if we should have this or not, but just thought it was appropriate to do so, but we didn’t want to do so without first acknowledging that.”

On why Kimbrel was the ultimate choice: “First and foremost, what was extremely important was the ability, because when we looked at Craig, we looked at him as a premium closer and there are various names out there, but one of the best in the game of baseball. There was no question that the years of control do make a difference, because you’re looking at the ability to control the contract as far as three years are concerned. And that was also able to make a difference as far as what we were able to give up, because we gave up a lot of good young players. We also thought that we’re going to have to give some quality to get quality. But giving the quality and having the three years made a significant difference.”

Getting someone with closing experience: “The key for us was we had identified a couple of guys that maybe stood above the rest as far as the ability to close, and the ability to get one of those guys we thought was extremely important. Because with the acquisition of Craig, we’re in a spot where we’ll move Koji to the eighth inning, and John Farrell really thought he’d be fine with that, knowing the type of individual that Koji is. And John made sure to reach out to Koji and spoke to him tonight already and said he was really good with the change of the role and that all he wants to do is pitch in the World Series again. He basically said, you don’t have to worry about me, I’ll pitch whenever you’re asked to and he acknowledged Kimbrel and understands the shift to the eighth inning, so I think that whole combination for us is really what made it work.”

Bullpen set for the most part: “I think this is enough of a major move that we need to make. Because when you shift Koji into the eight and Tazawa into the seventh, that’s significant. I can’t say we won’t do some tweaking as time goes on, I’m not really sure about that, but I think with the major moves, this is a big step for us and probably the major step we look to make at this point.”

Status update on Kimbrel? “He’s perfectly healthy. He feels great. He’s in the prime of his career. He’s 27. Our last scouting reports, which were late in the year in September, he was throwing 97 to 99 at that time with the good breaking ball. So he’s healthy, he’s been consistent throughout his career, he’s at the prime time, and so we look for him to be our guy back there for years to come.”

The haul:  “Well, you don’t ever like to give up young talent. We think they’re very talented individuals. But I do think with the good job that the people in player-development, scouting, international operations have done, we do have some depth at those positions and we also have some other quality young players that we were asked about repeatedly. In addition to that, I think the real key for us is that we made this acquisition in acknowledging that we didn’t give anything up at the major-league level to affect our club this year. So, we were able to add an All-Star closer without giving up the big-league-level guys. And so, again, it’s talent that is good talent. Some of it’s a while away. Again, you don’t like to give up this type of talent. I think San Diego did a very fine job, but we’re happy, of course, with getting Craig.”

Ace will be a free agent: “Well, my guess would be — and again, these are only guesses at this time — going into the wintertime and with conversations we’ve had with clubs over the last month, my thought process is most likely any acquisition we’d make in the starting pitching would first happen as far as the free-agent field is concerned. You never know, but that would be my guess. I thought that our acquisition of the relief pitching aspect would more likely come through a trade. We’re in a spot that this is probably our major acquisition for the wintertime as far as the trade market is concerned. You never can tell, but that’s what my instincts tell me.”

The importance of hard throwers in bullpen: “I think it’s always been a great way to go. Again, you have to look at different ways you put a bullpen together and to me, it starts with having a quality, premium closer, somebody that can get a big strikeout, get out of a tough situation. Someone who gets the save for you eventually. There’s different ways to go about it. Having that power arm out there at the back end is really important. I think it really strengthens the back end of our ‘pen overall then because you’ve got a closer there, a guy that’s closed in the eighth inning for us and  in the seventh. You see the way clubs have been successful, I think it’s important if you can do that. I’d like to combine it with real good starting pitching too and then you’ll really be in a quality spot. Having a strong bullpen is extremely important.”

The timeline of the deal: “We were working on it during the GM meetings. We’ve actually talked to San Diego almost since the very end of the season, just about various things, and they were really in a little bit of a hold as they went through their managerial hiring process, so it picked up right before going to the GM meetings and picked up as soon as we got there. We met on Monday face to face and really conversed about this, went back and forth on names. The whole GM meetings, we talked numerous times, met a few times, talked on the phone numerous times, but also did talk to other clubs. That was something that was taking place the whole time period. I was hopeful that we could make a deal after we left, but you never knew about those things. We actually finalized things this morning — it was about 8:30, I was in the office doing some work, catching up, got in here earlier than that. A.J. Preller called me around 5:30 in the morning his time, he was thinking about it and called me, and then we consummated the deal then, tentatively, agreed to things, and we had to go through different stages, medical people talking to one other, updating ownership at the time, and myself, too. That was really the time frame.”

Craig Kimbrel’s reaction

On being traded last year: “It definitely opened up my eyes, it definitely made you grow quite a bit. Especially with the trade being so last minute, the night before Opening Day. Things went kind of fast. I could barely know my teammates. I’m looking forward to having spring training to learn the team I’m going to be on this year. That’s going to be very nice. I felt like I’m from the south and playing in atlanta for that duration kind of spoiled me a little bit, being so close to home. I learned a lot about what it takes to move away from home and move away from my family and learn how to play the game that way. It definitely made me a stronger player and definitely a stronger person.”

Being traded twice in a year: “It’s part of the game. The more we looked at the game, there’s players who move around a lot more. From my view, especially being out of the bullpen, it’s something I won’t say I want to get to used to, but it’s become more common. Being moved to the American league, I’m excited. It’s a league of big bats and as a pitcher you want to have the opportunity to face those big  bats. It’s a challenge in itself and I’m looking forward to.”

On Pitching in Boston: “The history, the fans in Boston, the atmosphere is always awesome every time I’ve been there. You can tell the history and everything behind it there, so to be able to put the uniform on, to be able to play in front of those fans, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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