The Red Sox have officially parted ways with Josh Reddick and two low-level prospects in exchange for 2009 Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
Following Jonathan Paplebon's departure to the Philadelphia Phillies in a lucrative contract with a guaranteed four years and $55 million, Ben Cherington was left with a gap to fill for one of the best closers in the game today. As time passed and the likes of Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, and Papelbon all raised the bar for contracts for the closing position, Cherington sought out to find a less costly alternative.
While trying to wait for the demands of Ryan Madson to tone down over time as well as contemplating an internal solution to close out games at Fenway Park this coming season, it was evident Boston had their eye on Andrew Bailey the entire offseason. As of today, Ben Cherington finally got his man as well as Ryan Sweeney in exchange for promising outfielder Josh Reddick.
Reddick is coming off a strong 87 games in Boston in which he posted a .280 batting average with eight home runs and 28 runs batted in. Quickly becoming admired by the Fenway Faithful, Reddick was presumed to be the replacement to J.D. Drew in right field this upcoming season. There was some competition to be faced in spring training, in Darnell McDonald, Ryan Kalish and any offseason acquisitions, but Reddick was the favorite.
When analyzing the trade, this writer can not make any sense of the apparent necessity of acquiring Andrew Bailey. Of course, he has a promising 2.07 career ERA, but had his worst season last year, while losing approximately two months due to injuries. All that is said before taking in the fact that the transition from Oakland to the bright lights of Boston is not one everyone can handle, especially right away. Just ask Carl Crawford.
Who got the better end of the trade?
This move comes off as to me as just a PR move. This offseason has been incredibly boring and uninteresting for Red Sox fans, as the front office attempts to stay under their luxury tax restrictions and realize their 2012 team is pretty much intact already. Of course, Boston does need a few additions in their bullpen and starting rotation, but it isn't anything they need to throw millions of dollars and promising prospects at.
Bailey is a young and successful closer as of now in his career, but there is much risk to this move that brings up memories of the Eric Gagne trade quite a few years back. Boston let go of David Murphy for a risky relief pitcher. Obviously, the differences between a struggling Gagne and someone the caliber of Andrew Bailey are very apparent, but it seems as though Boston paid for a very good player who will only thrive in Oakland.
If the Red Sox did not have so many internal options and looked at the likes of Daniel Bard, Mark Melancon, or Alfredo Aceves as potential closing options with more interest, I feel as though it would have been just as good. Relief pitchers are always a risk, whether you are Andrew Bailey or anyone else. The transition and adjustments needed for Boston are, again, far from easy to comply with. I am of course not here to claim and automatically decree Bailey as a flop, but the risk was not worth Josh Reddick. Boston does still have Kalish and McDonald at their disposal, but Reddick is the only true player to prove his consistency at a major league platform.
Ben Cherington had plenty of alternative routes to take, but instead he took the one that seemed the most "crowd pleasing." Andrew Bailey is a good pitcher, but he is injury prone and any reliever is a risk when switching over to a contending team. If Bailey remains healthy and consistent, he could pan out very well in the Red Sox bullpen for the next several years, but was it really worth a promising outfielder who has found success and a degree of consistency in Boston? Oakland and Boston are two completely different animals.
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