It is human nature to swiftly judge a Major League Baseball trade based on the first season’s results. Those who follow that tendency will be quick to believe that Oakland general manager Billy Beane fleeced first-year Red Sox GM Ben Cherington in the off-season deal that shipped closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney to Boston for outfielder Josh Reddick, infield prospect Miles Head and minor league pitcher Raul Alcantara.
The 28-year-old Bailey, who has a 2.08 ERA and 75 saves over three Major League seasons, was expected to replace Jonathan Papelbon as Boston’s closer, but he injured his thumb in a collision during spring training, underwent surgery and has yet to appear in a game for the Red Sox.
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Reddick has been a key run producer for the surprising A’s. The right fielder has 25 home runs, 60 RBI, a .253 average and a .825 OPS. The 21-year-old Head, who is a corner infielder, ripped California League pitching with a .382 average, 18 home runs and 56 RBI in 294 plate appearances at advanced Single-A Stockton before he was promoted to Double-A Midland, where he has more modest numbers (.246 average, three home runs, 21 RBI in 155 plate appearances).
Bailey will finally get a chance to start proving Cherington made a wise decision with the trade on Tuesday when the right-hander is expected to be activated from the disabled list and join the Boston bullpen for the three-game series in Baltimore.
In three rehab outings at Triple-A Pawtucket, Bailey has allowed one baserunner and owns four strikeouts in 3.1 innings. His presence should bolster a weary group of Red Sox relievers. Chances are, Alfredo Aceves will remain as the closer while Bailey eases back into Major League game action. The Sox could option the struggling Mark Melancon to Pawtucket, or they could choose to send catcher Ryan Lavarnway back to Triple-A until rosters expand on September 1. Eventually, Bailey will claim the closer’s role.
Cherington hopes that Bailey duplicates the success he had as Oakland’s closer, especially since Sweeney was lost for the season when he suffered a broken hand after punching a door in the Red Sox dugout after he was robbed of a hit on July 30. The remorseful Sweeney was apologetic, yet his tantrum cost the team another player on the DL, and an outfielder who can proficiently play all three spots. He was batting .260 with no home runs, 16 RBI and a .675 OPS in 219 plate appearances, a drastic difference compared to Reddick’s production.