2018 ALCS Preview: How the Astros, Red Sox Got Here
The long-awaited battle between the winningest team and the defending champion is upon us.
The Red Sox and Astros kick off the American League Championship Series in Boston tonight. The 108-win Red Sox and defending champion Astros faced off in the ALDS just a year ago, and their postseason rematch this year has been long anticipated.
Here is a look at how the two powerhouses were built.
How they’re built: 10 homegrown (8 draft, 2 international signings); 15 acquired (9 trades, 5 free agents, 1 waivers)
Foundation laid: June 2011-June 2012—While the Astros tumbled to the bottom of the standings, they were making the moves to set them up for future success. In these 12 months, the Astros brought Jose Altuve up to the majors, drafted George Springer, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers and acquired Marwin Gonzalez in a Rule 5 Draft trade.
Turning point: July 2014-July 2015—The Astros failure to sign 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken (and by extension fifth-rounder Jacob Nix) was unpleasant, but the Astros still managed to make this period a rousing success. In these 12 months, they drafted Alex Bregman with the compensation pick they received for failing to sign Aiken, acquired Jake Marisnick and Evan Gattis in trades and, importantly, acquired numerous prospects who would later be part of key trades. Internationally they Astros signed Franklin Perez (Justin Verlander trade), Jorge Guzman (Brian McCann), Hector Perez (Roberto Osuna) and Jorge Alcala (Ryan Pressly); they acquired Colin Moran (Gerrit Cole trade) with Marisnick from the Marlins; and drafted Daz Cameron (Verlander), Tom Eshelman (Ken Giles and by extension Osuna) and Patrick Sandoval (Martin Maldonado). They also drafted top prospect Kyle Tucker and speedy outfielder Myles Straw, who was on ALDS roster this year.
Pushed over the top: Aug. 2017-Jan. 2018—In a span of five months, the Astros acquired two aces. First came the Justin Verlander deal with the Tigers in the waning minutes of the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, a move that would help bring the franchise its first World Series. In January they struck again, acquiring Gerrit Cole from the Pirates.
Boston Red Sox
How they’re built: 9 homegrown (7 draft, 2 international); 16 acquired (11 trades, 4 free agents, 1 purchased)
Foundation laid: 2011 draft—The Red Sox’s 2011 draft is shaping up to be one of the best of the decade. The Red Sox selected Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Matt Barnes and Blake Swihart all in this draft. They also selected Travis Shaw, who was traded to the Brewers in Dec. 2016, and Williams Jerez, who was used in the trade to acquire Ian Kinsler this summer.
Turning point: 2015—While the Red Sox stumbled to their second straight last-place finish in the AL East in 2015, they made a number of key moves throughout the calendar year that set up their future. They drafted Andrew Benintendi in the first round, signed Yoan Moncada out of Cuba, acquired Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the Padres, signed David Price as a free agent and purchased Sandy Leon from the Nationals. Their biggest move of all came in August, when they hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations.
Pushed over the top: Feb. 2018-July 2018—Acquiring Chris Sale (using Moncada as a key part of the trade) at the 2016 Winter Meetings was huge, but it alone wasn’t what propelled the Red Sox to a higher win total or more postseason success. In this six-month stretch they signed J.D. Martinez, added Ryan Brasier on a minor league deal, and acquired Steve Pearce, Nate Eovaldi and Ian Kinsler in trades. The moves would play an outsized role in the Red Sox jumping from 93 to 108 wins, and reaching the ALCS for the first time since 2013.