Red Sox Trade Analysis – Cherington Decides Against Major Deal – For Now

Jon Lester News

Lester remains with Red Sox (photo by Keith Allison)

With Josh Beckett and Jon Lester dramatically underperforming this season, the Red Sox could undoubtedly use a durable and effective starting pitcher.

Leading to Tuesday afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline, it was speculated that Boston would attempt to land an arm like Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas or Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson, but a deal never materialized.

A lack of movement at the trade deadline is not necessarily negative. Especially in the case of Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, it was advisable not to make a trade just to make a deal.

The Red Sox were not completely quiet at the deadline. They traded right-handed reliever Matt Albers and outfielder Scott Podsednik to the Diamondbacks for left-handed reliever Craig Breslow. Though it was not considered a headline-grabbing transaction, it is a move that provides another lefty in the bullpen with Rich Hill still on the disabled list, and it opened a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster.

The trade also gives manager Bobby Valentine the flexibility of moving hard-throwing 26-year-old left-hander Franklin Morales back into the rotation. Though he has spent most of his Red Sox tenure in the bullpen, Morales posted a 3.42 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and a .220 batting average against in five starts earlier this season.

When he was climbing the Rockies organization, Morales was considered one of the top 100 prospects in the game as a starting pitcher by Baseball America.

The Red Sox believe that Morales has the assortment of plus pitches to thrive as a starter. Cherington was unwilling to meet the cost in prospects that trading for Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, Miami right-hander Josh Johnson, Vargas or Masterson would have commanded.

Breslow, who pitched for the Red Sox in 2006, had a 2.70 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a .233 batting average against with Arizona this season. He has held lefties to a .243 average and righties to a .226 mark.

Albers logged a 2.29 ERA in 39.1 innings for the Red Sox, but the organization decided to part ways with the veteran because Andrew Bailey started a rehab assignment on Wednesday and should be back in August, Daniel Bard is regaining his confidence and mechanics at Pawtucket and additional right-handed arms like Clayton Mortensen, Mark Prior and Alex Wilson are available.

The Red Sox can also give a more prominent role to Junichi Tazawa, who has a 1.17 ERA in 10 games with Boston this year. Mortensen, who was obtained from Colorado for Marco Scutaro last off-season, was called up to replace Albers and boasts a 1.17 ERA in 10 games for the Red Sox as well.

In need of starting pitching, the Texas Rangers ended up getting Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, but multiple media outlets have reported that the Red Sox and Rangers discussed a mega-deal before Tuesday’s deadline that would have sent Beckett, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Kelly Shoppach to Texas. No stories have surfaced about who the Red Sox would have received.

With Beckett owed $15.75 million a year through 2014 – and since he has fallen out of favor in Boston because of his inconsistent numbers dating to last September along with his questionable attitude off the mound – it is no surprise that his name appeared in trade rumors. He could still be dealt in August as long as he passes through waivers, or the Red Sox might wait to find Beckett a new destination until the off-season.

Chances are, Beckett will not be wearing a Red Sox uniform in 2013. As for Ellsbury, he is represented by Scott Boras and will be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season. Boston could trade him this off-season or let him enter free agency and get draft pick compensation since he would not accept arbitration.

As for Shoppach, his is signed to a modest one-year deal, and the Red Sox have 24-year-old power-hitting catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who is major league ready and was called up on Wednesday night to replace outfielder Daniel Nava, who was placed on the DL with a wrist injury.

 


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