It was a very busy trade deadline for the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, as the last-place American League East team cut their losses for the season and scuttled five players out of town.
All told the Red Sox shipped ace Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics, veteran lefty John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals, made a very rare deal by sending shortstop Stephen Drew to the rival New York Yankees and dealt lefty reliever Andrew Miller to the first-place Baltimore Orioles, according to several reports.
In return, Boston received slugger Yoenis Cespedes, first baseman and outfielder Allen Craig, righty Joe Kelly, top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, veteran infielder Kelly Johnson and a draft pick. It doesn’t seem like a mighty haul, but Boston deftly lined itself up for big moves now and in the future.
Let’s take a look at what each deal means for the near and long-term future of the team. Other than Lester, the Red Sox gave up very little, including several players scheduled to be free agents in the offseason.
Lester, Gomes to A’s for Yoenis Cespedes
The 30-year-old Lester was unquestionably Boston’s best starter and their most valuable trade chip, and many feel he could re-sign with the club during free agency, but in the meantime the Red Sox spruced up their outfield and 20th-ranked offense with a slugger like Cespedes who is signed through the 2015 season, as reported by ESPN Boston.
Now in his third year in the majors, Cespedes has displayed awesome power at the plate, racking up 66 home runs but his high strikeout and low walk numbers could be troubling for a Boston lineup that needs to generate runs. Cespedes has struck out 80 times this season so far, and 239 times in the previous two seasons combined, and he has a .303 on-base percentage this season.
Nevertheless he immediately becomes the second-best power hitter on the team behind David Ortiz, and could provide some protection at the top or middle of Boston’s lineup. Cespedes is also a major upgrade defensively in the outfield. Gunning players out from the warning track is just part of his routine.
The loss of leftfielder Gomes isn’t a huge blow. He’s batting .234 with six home runs, 32 RBIs and seven doubles this season, and he’ll be a free agent this winter.
The deal also stipulates Boston receive the A’s competitive balance draft pick and Oakland gets cash considerations.
Drew to Yankees For Kelly Johnson
At first it was unclear who Boston got in return for Drew until WEEI confirmed it was infielder Johnson. With a slash-line of .176/.255/.328, Drew is in the midst of his worst season as a pro, but the Yanks were in need of some more depth in the infield. Drew is also a free agent this winter that Boston was unlikely to re-sign.
Johnson’s slash-line isn’t that much better .219/.304/.373, but he also comes off the books at the conclusion of the season.
Oddly enough, this move was the first time Boston and the Yanks have made a trade since 1997, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Lackey to Cards for Craig and Kelly
After Lester, Lackey became the de facto ace but he was quickly ushered off to St. Louis. The 35-year-old has posted a solid 3.60 ERA this season with an 11-7 record in 21 starts. Combined with the Lester deal, this move confirmed the Red Sox believe the playoffs are pretty much out of the question this season.
This season hasn’t been Craig’s best, but the Boston Globe pointed out he’s hit .312 with a .864 OPS and 46 home runs in the last three seasons and he’s only owed $25.5 million from 2015 to 2018. That’s rather cheap for a player who’s shown such promise at the plate, and is capable of adding depth to a Red Sox outfield that’s sorely missed Jacoby Ellsbury this season.
Kelly, 26, hasn’t pitched like the starter that went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 2013, and has struggled in seven starts this year. Making only $523,000 this season, Kelly’s eligible for pre-arbitration this year, and if Boston can help him find his groove on the mound again, he’d be a steal down the road.
Miller to O’s for Rodriguez
As Yahoo! Sports reported, Miller went to the Orioles in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller was one of the more coveted relievers on the trade market because of his 2.34 ERA and 69 strikeouts compared to 13 walks in 42.1 innings this season.
Rodriguez was apparently Baltimore’s No. 3 ranked prospect, and while his minor league numbers haven’t been great, he’s still a 21-year-old lefty with loads of talent who won’t command a big salary for the next couple seasons or so.