The Boston Red Sox have had a disappointing 2014 season after winning their eighth World Series title in 2013. However, the Red Sox were by far the most active team at the MLB trade deadline Thursday as Boston participated in four trades. Even though the trades showed that Boston was waving the white flag on this season, the Red Sox may very well be the long-term winners of this year’s trade frenzy.
The first and arguably biggest trade of the day came when Boston sent pitching ace Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Yes, the Red Sox gave up their best pitcher, but it happened before Boston could have potentially lost him during free agency this upcoming winter. Instead, the Red Sox were able to get some value for Lester’s expiring contract in Cespedes. Oakland now has one of the strongest pitching rotations in all of baseball, while Gomes will fit in well in Oakland’s already fantastic offense. However, the A’s better hope Lester plans to re-sign. If not, only a half-year rental for Lester and Gomes in exchange for Cespedes potentially staying long-term in Boston does not sound good for Oakland, especially if Oakland fails to win the World Series this season.
As for Cespedes, he is a huge upgrade at the plate and defensively in left field from Gomes. Not only is Cespedes more talented and younger than Gomes, Cespedes also has another year left on his contract before he becomes a free agent and signs a long-term deal somewhere. Cespedes will bring a lot of pop to a Red Sox’ lineup which has struggled all season.
Another big trade the Red Sox participated in on Thursday sent veteran pitcher John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig. Lackey has a club option next season on his contract, but he will strengthen the Cardinals already strong pitching staff. Kelly is a young pitcher who has had success with St. Louis and should be able to contribute immediately in the Red Sox’ rotation.
Craig has struggled so far this season, but a change in scenery may be the best thing for Craig to get back to his All-Star ways. He is a guy who can play first base, outfield, and even DH for Boston, so his ability to play many positions will be extremely valuable to the Red Sox. Craig’s contract requires him to be paid more than $25 million over the next three seasons with a $1 million club option in 2018. However, if Craig can play like the All-Star he has the previous three seasons, he could end up being a very worthwhile addition to the Red Sox’ lineup.
The Red Sox also completed two smaller deals on Thursday, the first sending reliever Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles. Miller is a nice addition to the Orioles’ pen, but the Red Sox received Baltimore’s No. 3 prospect in the deal—pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez will not contribute right away, but he is a nice piece for the future to add to the Red Sox already outstanding farm system.
The other smaller deal that Boston orchestrated was with the New York Yankees, swapping shortstop Stephen Drew for third baseman Kelly Johnson. Drew is a solid fielder, but he cannot hit if his life depended on it. The move is great for Boston because it allows rising star Xander Bogaerts to move back to his natural shortstop position. Bogaerts had been playing third since Will Middlebrooks went down with an injury, but the arrival of Johnson to play the hot corner allows Bogaerts to move back to the middle of the diamond.
The most important thing to take from the trade deadline on the Red Sox is that Boston wants to retool, not rebuild. The players Boston has brought in are guys who can contribute immediately and help get this team back to the postseason in 2015. It may be a difficult time right now for Red Sox Nation, but in a few more years, the Boston Red Sox could be seen as the geniuses of the 2014 trade deadline.