Boston Red Sox Trade Deadline: Grading the Club's Moves and Non-Moves
Over the past few weeks, few team were linked to more players than were the Red Sox. It seemed that at one point or another, every player on the trading block was mentioned in the same breath as Boston.
Even guys who weren't obviously available were discussed. Everyone from Hanley Ramirez in Miami to Josh WIllingham in Oakland was on Theo Epstein's radar.
In the end, the club made only a couple of moves, though one was a pretty big deal. The Sox met both of their goals, adding bench depth and an arm designed to help the back of the rotation. Epstein had said that he wanted to add a bat due to the "prohibitive" cost of elite starting pitching, and did so by bringing Kansas City's Mike Aviles on board
But that prohibitive cost didn't stop him from also making a last minute swap for Seattle's Erik Bedard and Josh Fields.
Those two trades were the ones that happened. But plenty of other high-profile arrangements failed. Despite some missteps and the failure to add any truly big names, the Boston braintrust had a reasonably good deadline. Perhaps a B or a B-.
Now it's time to assign grades to everything that did or didn't happen for the Red Sox.
Passing on Carlos Beltran
Beltran headed to San Francisco in exchange for Zack Wheeler
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No player was more discussed than Carlos Beltran. His teammate Jose Reyes came close and was even linked to the Sox more than once. But that trade was never going to happen for numerous reasons.
The was, however, real potential for a deal to bring Beltran to Fenway. Boston wanted a right field bat to replace J.D. Drew and New York wanted prospects in return. Boston has the farm system to oblige.
In the end, Beltran stayed in the NL, went to the Giants and resulted in prospect Zack Wheeler going to the Mets. It was a win for both teams, but especially for New York. Consider it GM Sandy Alderson's first coup. Wheeler is a top-tier arm who could help anchor a rotation, and Beltran was going to be lost to free agency anyway.
Boston did the right thing in letting San Francisco win the bidding war. It would almost certainly have cost the club an elite prospect like Will Middlebrooks or, more likely, pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. Boston didn't need a bat rental, and the probability of extending Beltran was always low.
Of course, it would have been great to have his production in the lineup, but passing was a good choice.
Passing on Hunter Pence
The Phillies won Pence in a solid trade with Houston
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Boston did well to remain on the sidelines in this one for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, offense was and is not a primary need. Adding Pence would have been pure luxury, and the Sox had bigger worries.
The second reason that the team was smart to stand aside is that Pence, though a very good player, was being overrated by the lack of talent left on the market. Pence is a longer term add than Beltran. He's fairly affordable for the near future. And he's a multi-tool player who will bring a lot to the Phils' lineup. But he's no superstar.
At best, he might have been Boston's fifth or sixth seventh best hitter. To give up multiple highly-ranked prospects for that kind of add would have been a poor choice.
The offense is fine without him.
Missing out on Hiroki Kuroda
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The news out of L.A. was different seemingly every day. At one point, Rotoworld reported that Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York said Kuroda was willing to waive his no-trade clause to come to certain teams east of California. Boston was one of those. Then, days later, that news was contradicted by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.
Misinformation or not, Kuroda evidently had no intention of waiving the clause. Instead, he will pursue free agency after the season.
It's difficult to know how to grade this non-trade because there's real sense of what L.A. would have gotten in return. Kuroda would have been a strong add, but if he had cost Boston two or more prospects, it simply would not have been worthwhile.
Kuroda would almost certainly have been a two-month rental. So not getting a deal done wasn't the worst thing in the world, despite Kuroda's skills.
Missing out on Ubaldo Jimenez
Jimenez went to the Indians for multiple prospects
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Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the most sought-after pitchers on this year's market, and trade talk surrounding him was hot and heavy for weeks. In the end, it wasn't a big spender like Boston or New York that won out, but the Cleveland Indians.
That came as a real surprise to many fans, and the Tribe paid a heavy price to acquire the Colorado ace. Two of their top pitching prospects plus a mid-level position player are now going to factor into the Rockies future.
Jimenez's real draw is his potential and his salary. He's under team control through 2014 for an average of roughly $5 million per year. And his 2010 campaign was outstanding.
But this year's numbers aren't nearly as good, and his velocity is down slightly. Not a good trend for a hurler who is only 27. The Indians are banking on him returning to form, and it's a reasonably good bet despite the risk.
He would have been an exciting add for the Red Sox, but the price to acquire him was probably a bit too high. Consider this one a wash.
Adding Mike Aviles
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Adding Mike Aviles was a pointless swap. If he was still the same player whose career began with promise in 2008, then maybe the acquisition would make sense. As it stands, Aviles is little more than a utility-type player.
Yes, he can play shortstop and third base, though he does neither particularly well.
Granted, the Sox didn't give up much. Infielder Yamaico Navarro wasn't progressing and didn't appear to be part of the club's future. It was too soon to say the same about pitching prospect Kedal Volz, but he was clearly expendable.
Even so, both players were young and might yet develop.
Worst of all, Sean McAdam reported that Aviles is likely to be a September callup. Until rosters expand, he'll be at Pawtucket.
And get this: Boston wants him to get comfortable in the outfield.
To summarize this deal, the team gave away a pair of 23-year-olds with at least some promise in exchange for a guy who can't stay in the big leagues in his fourth season. And they're going to convert him from infield to outfield.
Failing to Wrap Up Rich Harden
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The deal between Oakland and Boston that would have added Rich Harden to the Red Sox rotation was hours away from being finalized. Luckily, the two clubs met an impasse, and the trade fell through.
The sticking point was Boston's insistence on a contingency clause related to Harden's health, and it was a good thing that the the Sox stood their ground. Had this swap worked out, it would have been a poor decision.
Harden's career has been devastated by injuries, and the righty hasn't had a respectable ERA since 2008.
What might have been a D turned positive when the A's failed to comply with Boston's wishes. Missing out on Harden was a blessing in disguise.
Grabbing Erik Bedard as Time Expired
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The big trade of Boston's deadline came in the final minutes. It was announced just after the deadline expired, tweeted at 4:03 by ESPN's Gordon Edes. The seven-player deal involved three teams as the Sox and M's coordinated with the Dodgers to bring it to fruition.
Like Harden, Bedard is an injury wrapped in a uniform. But that wasn't enough to deter the Sox. Perhaps that's because unlike Harden, Bedard has actually been good of late. Though he missed the 2010 season completely, Bedard's ERA hasn't been higher than 3.76 since 2005.
If he can avoid the DL, an admittedly big if, he should be a solid addition to the rotation. And if Bedard can turn in a quality two months, he'll go a long way toward solving the problems caused by injuries to Clay Buchholz and Diasuke Matsuzaka and by John Lackey's ineffectiveness.
Boston's other options at the back of the rotation are mostly unproven: Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront could be hit or miss. Tim Wakefield is good when the knuckler is dancing, but when it's flat, it's trouble.
So adding a competent veteran like Bedard may be worth the injury risk, even though he's far from the ideal candidate.
Making this deal better is the fact that Boston gave up relatively little.
Minor league pitchers Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez went to the Dodgers along with catcher Tim Federowicz. Federowicz, a former UNC Tarheel, might have had the most value of the three, but Jarrod Saltalamcchia's progress this year has given Boston some faith in its catching future.
Outfielder Trayvon Robinson came back from L.A. and was flipped to Seattle along with Boston's No. 18 prospect, pitcher Chih-Hsien Chiang. Chiang is clearly the centerpiece of the deal, but losing him doesn't hurt too much.
Essentially, Boston added a veteran who has past success in the AL East (Baltimore) and didn't have to part with any of their top 15 prospects. If not for Bedard's health issues, this would be an excellent trade.
Instead, it is a potentially good trade. But fans will be holding their breath until the club's final out of the year.