On Wednesday, the Boston Red Sox rookie GM Ben Cherington pulled off a trade with the Oakland Athletics for All-Star closer Andrew Bailey, according to ESPN. As part of the deal, the Red Sox traded OF Josh Reddick along with two other prospects to Oakland in exchange for Bailey and OF Ryan Sweeney.
The acquisition of Bailey is yet another stellar move by a Red Sox front office—though it has changed in personnel recently—is constantly willing to make high-profile moves that can really improve the club.
The loss of Papelbon to the Philadelphia Phillies seemed to be an enormous loss for an already shaky Boston bullpen, but Bailey looks to be an upgrade at the position of closer over Papelbon.
First, Bailey is a much cheaper option than Papelbon. This upcoming season, Bailey—still on his rookie contract—will make a mere $465,000 while Papelbon, after signing his recent four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies, will be making $12 million for the 2012 MLB season.
That's a nearly $11.5 million savings for the Red Sox, in addition to getting the better back-end of the bullpen pitcher.
Second, Bailey is four years younger than Papelbon. I know that may not seem like much, but it represents four less years of arm wear-and-tear that Bailey has suffered so far in his MLB career.
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The arms of pitchers—especially hard-throwers like Bailey and Papelbon—are very fragile and the less strain the arm of a pitcher has undergone, the more effective and less injury-prone that pitcher can be.
With Bailey, the Red Sox are getting the younger and more likely healthier closer.
Third, and most importantly, Bailey is simply a better pitcher than Jonathan Papelbon. Throughout his career, Bailey has posted phenomenal numbers—such as a sub-2.00 WHIP (0.95) and a near-2.00 ERA (2.07).
Papelbon's numbers over his career in those same categories are significantly worse than Bailey's. Papelbon's WHIP of 1.02 is .07 points worse than Bailey's, while his ERA (2.33) is .26 points lower than Bailey's.
All in all, Jonathan Papelbon was one of the cornerstones of the Red Sox club during his time in Boston, but the Sox actually benefited by losing him to the Phillies and acquiring Andrew Bailey from the A's as his replacement.
With this trade, GM Ben Cherington showed that he, like his predecessor Theo Epstein, can make blockbuster moves that will end with greatly improving the Red Sox team and give them the pieces necessary to win the AL East.