Who is Felix Doubront?
The Cubs are about to find out after Wednesday’s deal with the Boston Red Sox. Frustrated with pitching out of the bullpen, Doubront got what he wanted – a ticket out of Boston.
The Red Sox will get a player to be named later, while the Cubs can’t know what they exactly have now in the 26-year-old lefty. Theo Epstein’s front office will take a few days before revealing the plan for Doubront.
Cubs executives already have an idea about Doubront’s personality, because they ran the Red Sox in 2005, when he signed with the organization as a teenager out of Venezuela.
Doubront emerged as Boston’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2010 and debuted in The Show that season at the age of 22. He went 11-6 with a 4.32 ERA for the World Series champs last season, accounting for 160-plus innings and contributing as a playoff reliever. He remains under club control through the 2017 season.
So why did the Red Sox give up on Doubront?
He struggled as a swingman (2-4, 6.07 ERA) this season and made it known he was unhappy in that role. He got rocked in Monday night’s 14-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, getting two outs and giving up six runs at Fenway Park. The Boston media quickly picked up on the body language.
“I don’t think he’s disinterested,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “There are others who have moved ahead of him in the rotation and opportunities presented themselves coming out of the bullpen. But if the role is not sitting well and affecting his pitching, there needs to be a different focus to realizing his potential and capabilities.”
The Cubs love taking chances on change-of-scenery guys, because they believe in pitching coach Chris Bosio and the organization’s pitching infrastructure. Taking flyers on former Red Sox prospects Daniel Bard and Michael Bowden didn’t work out, but Travis Wood developed into an All-Star here, while Jake Arrieta now looks like a top-of-the-rotation starter.
There are opportunities at Wrigley Field. Doubront becomes the next project.
“I don’t necessarily buy into the change of scenery,” Farrell told the Boston media. “Can it invigorate someone in a new surrounding? Possibly. But as I talked with him a while ago, if this (deal) does come to fruition, the work is always going to be needed, regardless of where you pitch or the role in which you’re pitching.
“He has performed well for us over a period of time, and it can’t be understated, the importance of his relief appearances last year in the World Series. Those were two pivotal outings by him and he did a great job.”