When the dust settles, it’s still expected that Mookie Betts and David Price will end up in Los Angeles, outfielder Alex Verdugo and likely pitcher Brusdar Graterol will end up with the Red Sox, and starter Kenta Maeda likely will end up in Minnesota. But nearly two days after the Red Sox agreed in principle to that blockbuster three-team deal with the Dodgers and Twins, it has yet to be finalized because of concerns related to the medical evaluation of Graterol, major league sources confirmed.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Wednesday that the Red Sox’ review of the 21-year-old’s medical records led them to conclude that he is less likely than anticipated to project as a starting pitcher. According to the sources confirming the report, the Sox are seeking additional compensation, most likely in the form of a player in addition to Verdugo and Graterol. It’s also possible, though less likely, that the Sox would seek a different player to replace Graterol. Either way, sources from teams involved in the deal still believe the framework isn’t in jeopardy.
Injury risk was a known part of Graterol’s profile, and part of the reason why many view him more as a potential reliever than starter. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and didn’t pitch at all in 2016. In May 2018, he dealt with back spasms, followed by shoulder impingement syndrome in 2019.
He pitched just over 70 innings combined in the minor leagues and major leagues last year.
Now, a medical issue apparently is keeping the trade from becoming official.
“It would not stun me,’’ an American League scout said. “He’s had issues in the past.’’
Graterol has an electric arm, with a sinker that regularly exceeds 100 m.p.h. and a slider with a chance to be a true weapon. His changeup remains a work in progress.
Based on the profile of his pitches alone, evaluators see the righthander as having a chance to be a starter, potentially a mid-rotation contributor or better. One National League evaluator sees Graterol as having perhaps a 20-30 percent chance of a future in a rotation. An American League evaluator said that while the righthander’s future probably is in the bullpen, he would first want to exhaust the possibility of developing him as a starter.
“I wouldn’t want to give up on it,’’ he said, “and I wouldn’t want to bet on it.’’
According to a recent look at Graterol in the Star Tribune, the Twins saw the righthander as a potential bullpen option coming out of spring training, though they hadn’t closed the door on him as a starter, presumably with further development time in the minors to build his workload.
The shoulder impingement that limited Graterol’s innings in 2019
resulted in a late-season move from the Double A rotation to the bullpen. When he returned from more than two months on the injured list, he showed his typical premium velocity on his sinker.
While one major league source said Wednesday night that there were still “a lot of moving parts’’ to the trade, another said that the sides are “continuing to work toward a deal,’’ a sense that remained in place Thursday.