Burke Badenhop could fill a role for the Red Sox next season.
Dealing for Badenhop is not the type of move that will attract much attention in November, but it could get considerable notice come the middle of next season if Badenhop is a key part to next year's bullpen.
Organizational pitching depth is partially what allowed the Red Sox to withstand injuries to closers Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan, as well as key reliever Andrew Miller. Boston was able to use Koji Uehara, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa effectively, allowing the Red Sox to win the 2013 World Series.
It's another smart, solid move by Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. Instead of dipping into the free-agent market for a reliever who might command a two-year deal, Cherington was able to acquire a solid bullpen arm for very little in the way of trade cost and salary commitment. It is an area where Boston can use its large market payroll to its advantage.
Badenhop is projected by MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes to earn $2.1 million in 2014. Boston has the luxury of paying a middle reliever $2 million for next season, while it would be more difficult for the Brewers to spend that much when Milwaukee's 2013 payroll was $88.8 million and it already has $75 million in salary commitments for next year.
The 30-year-old Badenhop has been a generally effective reliever in his career, a ground-ball pitcher who can come into games in the middle innings and potentially get a double-play ball.
Right-handed hitters batted only .229 against him last season and have a .253 average against him for his career. Badenhop also has very good control, allowing only 12 walks in each of the past two seasons while appearing in more than 60 games each season. His career 5.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio against right-handed hitters means that he will likely be trusted to come in and get tough outs.
This deal also opens the door for other deals from the Red Sox, maybe allowing Cherington to package a pitcher or two in a deal for a catcher or an outfielder. Franklin Morales would likely have some value to other teams, especially as a starter to a National League team, and it is also unlikely that the Red Sox will tender former closer Bailey a contract this winter.
Trading for Badenhop might not move the excitement meter much here at the beginning of winter, but pitching is the name of the game and the Red Sox have shown that they have learned their lesson well.