Padres Hiding the Ball

In July 2016, the Boston Red Sox made a crucial decision to trade their highly coveted prospect, Anderson Espinoza, for San Diego Padres pitcher Drew Pomeranz. The trade seemed like a no-brainer for the Red Sox, a franchise which re-tooled their starting rotation in the off-season and positioned itself to make a big run at winning the World Series. For this reason, the organization felt the need to bolster their pitching staff by acquiring an already established (and young at 27) pitcher in Pomeranz, who was playing great baseball for the Padres. Through early July, he had posted 8 wins and an ERA of just 2.47. When the trade was executed, the baseball world was awestruck as Boston seemingly pulled off a fantastic deal to push them into contention late in the season.

Unbeknownst to the Red Sox, the organization was acquiring a Pomeranz who wasn’t necessarily healthy. The San Diego Padres reportedly instructed their trainers to deprive other teams of critical information by compiling two distinct categories of player medical records. The first type consisted of complete information, used for organizational purposes, while the second type featured only partial information shared with other teams for trade purposes. As a consequence of this practice, teams inquiring about Padres players were denied medical information that would have influenced what those teams offered in trade proposals. As a result, the general manager of the Padres, A.J. Preller, was suspended for 30 days without pay.

The Red Sox allege that the Padres’ failure to provide adequate medical information about Pomeranz was a misrepresentation during negotiations. Misrepresentation is derived from contract law, in which one party misrepresents the terms of the offer in order to induce acceptance. Here, the Red Sox believed that they were acquiring a healthy player, one who could bolster their rotation, and aid in their dominance in the immediate future. As the Padres’ assured the Red Sox of Pomeranz’s condition, the Red Sox were willing to trade equal talent, in the form of a highly coveted young pitcher. The Red Sox claim that had they been completely informed of Pomeranz’s medical history, they would have offered something of equal value in exchange, or may not have gone after the trade at all.

While some may argue that the trade hasn’t necessarily caused an injury to Boston, as the team did win the American League East, it is the “long run” that the Red Sox could be injured. Pomeranz’s 4.60 ERA over 11 starts for the Sox pales in comparison to his earlier season success, resulting in a flustering failure to perform at the level he was acquired for. While he slots in well behind aces David Price (17–9, 3.99 ERA) and Rick Porcello (22–4, 3.15 ERA) in the team’s rotation, these numbers are not enough. Most recently, Pomeranz has even been moved to the bullpen to alleviate his innings pitched this post-season; a move that may have resulted from a problem with his longevity due to his health.

Despite the unfair dealing by the Padres organization, it is unlikely that the Red Sox will rescind the contract, reacquire Espinoza, or receive money damages. At this time, the MLB says it “considers the matter closed”, yet the Red Sox, however, don’t share the same sentiment. Red Sox chairman Tom Werner told NESN that “we felt that some wrong was committed and that it’s important to have a level playing field.” While the Red Sox may ultimately seek arbitration in the matter, for now it seems that the team will have to forge ahead and take out their frustrations on the ball field.


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