When the Red Sox struck their deal for Chris Sale at the winter meetings last December, one National League evaluator said the timing of the trade was little short of brilliant. With the Yankees focused on developing a young core and expected to shed payroll in 2017 and 2018, an opportunity to achieve separation in the AL East existed.
That vision, of course, did not come to fruition. The Sox did manage to win the AL East, but they did so despite the fact that the Yankees were arguably the better team. New York finished with a 91-61 record that was two games worse than the Sox, but outscored opponents by 198 runs. The Red Sox had a more modest run differential of 117 runs.