Chris Sale trade grades: Atlanta sends young hitter Vaughn Grissom to Boston for veteran lefty

The Red Sox and Braves made a somewhat unexpected deal on Saturday — aren’t those the best? — swapping a young hitting prospect for a veteran pitcher who’s had injury issues. 

Lefty Chris Sale (and cash considerations) are heading to Atlanta. Vaughn Grissom, a hitter without a permanent position defensively, is heading to Boston.

It’s all rather fascinating. Let’s take a look at the deal.

MORE: Latest updates, rumors in MLB’s hot stove season

Chris Sale, Vaughn Grissom trade grades

Braves grade: B-plus


  • Braves receive: SP Chris Sale, cash considerations

The Braves needed to do something with Grissom, a talented player with an emerging bat but a gloveful of defensive questions. Shortstop was his primary position in the minors, though he’s played second and third, too. The Braves are set at all three spots. And even if they weren’t, there were questions about whether his glove would have been good enough for him to be an everyday player anyway. So, it was very fair to ask how he fit with Atlanta roster in 2024, especially after the trade for Jarred Kelenic. Atlanta had talked about moving Grissom to the outfield for 2024, and his bat — he hit .330 with a .419 on-base percentage in 102 games at Triple-A last year — seemed worthy of attempting that transition. 

With Kelenic aboard, Grissom’s ceiling seemed to be a platoon’s worth of ABs, against lefty pitchers (unless injuries happened, of course). So it’s not that Grissom was expendable, but he wasn’t essential to Atlanta’s 2024 prospects. With this deal, the Braves took this non-essential piece of the puzzle and turned him into Chris Sale. Atlanta would love for Sale to have a full bounce-back year, to resume a career that was once on a Hall of Fame trajectory before everything started going south in 2019 with injury after injury. 

But that would just be a bonus. What they really want — why they made this move — is for Sale to be healthy in October. They want him on the mound with his swing-and-miss stuff against the Phillies, the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks and whatever other team they might meet in their quest to get back to the World Series. That’s all they need. They don’t need Chris Sale to get into the playoffs or even to win the NL East. They’re good enough without him to make that happen. They need him in October. They need him to help them avoid the early exits of the past two seasons. That’s all. 

Red Sox grade: B-minus

  • Red Sox receive: SS/3B/2B/OF Vaughn Grissom

Shocking, right? The Red Sox have another position player on the roster with a bat that’s better than his glove. In so many ways, Grissom’s probably the prototypical Boston player.

Now, I realize I just spent time talking about how Grissom was non-essential for the Braves, but that’s a rather unique situation. Atlanta is freaking loaded. Grissom wouldn’t be non-essential for most teams in the majors. He’s still a high-upside player, with a bat that could absolutely be All-Star level for many years to come. And his big-league debut back in 2022 produced a pretty memorable moment at Fenway Park, his new baseball home.

This is from a piece I wrote on Grissom and Michael Harris II in 2022

Grissom was batting .324 in 96 minor-league games — 74 in High-A and 22 in Double-A — when was called up in early August, and thanks to Harris’ reassuring words, he was undaunted. So much so that he actually homered in Fenway Park in his debut game in the bigs.

“He freaking hits one into the street, over the Green Monster,” (Brian) Jordan said. “I was just like, wow, another 21-year-old coming up with a slow pulse, a high IQ, aggressive and not afraid to make a mistake. You’ve got to love ballplayers like that.”

And don’t discount Grissom’s motivation to prove everyone in the Atlanta organization who doubted him wrong.

We’ll see where the Red Sox intend to play him, but if nothing else his versatility will be helpful. 

Of course, the Red Sox were already hurting for starting pitching, which is why they were connected to pretty much every single free-agent starter on the market, even the biggest-ticket pitchers. Now, Sale’s out of the equation, which ups the pressure to land Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell or any of the other starters available via free agency or trade. 

Source : ESPN.com

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