The Boston Red Sox were busy at the MLB Trade Deadline, reshaping their roster with a flurry of deals made with the intent of jumping back to contender status by next season. Let's re-cap a wild whirlwind of moves to see where the Sox stand once the dust cleared.
- Boston made the first big blockbuster of the day early this morning by swapping All-Stars, sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A's for Yoenis Cespedes. We covered the details of this deal earlier today, but the gist of it is that Boston gets a very good outfielder with a power bat and a cannon for an arm in exchange for their ace, who is set to hit free agency after this season. Cespedes is under contract for $10.5 million next year and it's likely the Sox will try to work out an extension before he hits free agency.
- John Lackey and minor league left-hander Corey Littrell were sent to St. Louis with cash for 1B/OF Allen Craig and right-handed starter Joe Kelley. Lackey became a huge bargaining chip due to his contract, which pays him only $500K next season. There was some concern that he may hold out for an extension or threaten to retire rather than play for the minimum, but that may change now that he's in St. Louis. Still, it's a risk Boston may not have wanted to deal with and they got solid value in return. Craig further bolsters their offense and can play multiple positions. He's having a down season, but he's a career .291/.346/.637 hitter and was an All-Star in 2013. He's owed only $25.5 million over the next three seasons (plus a $13 million club option in 2018), which makes him a decent bargain if he can return to the level he was at the past three seasons. Kelly is also having a rough season, but he's only 26 and has some upside. He should slot into one of the vacant rotation spots for the rest of this season and be in the mix for the 2015 rotation as well.
- Andrew Miller was one of the most highly coveted relief pitchers on the market and the Red Sox managed to cash in on the impending free agent by acquiring Eduardo Rodriguez from the Baltimore Orioles. He was the No. 3 prospect in Baltimore's system. He throws his fastball in the low 90s with good sink and movement, pairing it with a hard change-up and tight slider that are considered to be at least average. He's only 21 with room to improve and profiles as a middle of the rotation starter. Not a bad reward for a setup man that will only be a two-month rental – plus Miller says he's open to returning to Boston next year. He's been a strikeout machine (14.7 K/9) this year and will help solidify the Orioles bullpen.
- The Red Sox made a rare trade with the rival Yankees by sending Stephen Drew to New York in exchange for infielder Kelly Johnson. This looks like a straight salary dump considering Johnson is on the disabled list and is unlikely to become a regular starter. It saves Boston some money and allows them to shift Xander Bogaerts back to shortstop – which might help fix what has been wrong with him swing ever since he was forced to switch positions.
- Felix Doubront was sent to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later on Wednesday. As we discussed before, the move was more about washing their hands of the disgruntled Doubront, who lost his rotation spot and seemed disinterested in his new bullpen role.
Well four of the five pitchers that started the season in the Red Sox rotation are now gone, when you factor in the trade that sent Jake Peavy to San Francisco last weekend. That leaves Clay Buchholz and a bunch of young pitchers to compete for spots the rest of the season to see who will emerge as keepers for next year's rotation. Boston has Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo and potentially top pitching prospect Henry Owens all in the mix for those four rotation spots next year, plus a handful of other mid-tier prospects down on the farm. Their impressive depth could lead to the team looking to deal quantity for quality in the off-season. If an ace pitcher like Cole Hamels were to be made available this winter, the Sox are well stocked to make a run.
Don't rule out the team making a splash in free agency to bring in a pitcher. Jon Lester could always come back, no matter how much of a long shot that currently appears. Or they could go after Max Scherzer or James Shields. It's more likely that they will try to trade for an ace that is already under contract for only a few years rather than commit 6+ years at the market rate for any of those over-30 starters, but they have the flexibility to go in either direction.
The outfield is now looking pretty crowded, with Cespedes, Craig, Jackie Bradley, Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava under contract next season. Brock Holt also needs a spot somewhere and the infield is crowded too. Plus the team will want to find a spot for Mookie Betts, which means at least one of these guys could be on the move this winter – possibly in another package to use quantity to upgrade quality.
Red Sox Nation is frustrated with this dismal season that has led to a fire sale of some very popular players, but the team has a plan in mind that is starting to take form. They got good value in return for their players and have loaded up with depth and prospects. Looking ahead to next season, they have far too many players worthy of being on the roster and not enough spots, which means something has to give. More trades are coming this off-season and beyond. The roster looks vastly different right now than it did yesterday and will probably see a lot more changes over the winter. In the end, we should see a 2015 Red Sox team primed to bounce back in a big way.
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Tags: Andrew Miller, Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, MLB