I’m not going to go over each and every trade of the day. Today, I will go into the day the Red Sox had in-depth. The Red Sox had an excellent day at the trade deadline. While I’m sure that fans will miss the players that left (my wife is still recovering), everything they did sets the team up nicely for 2015. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the David Price trade and a few of the other minor trades of the day.
The Red Sox started the day with a bang. They traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Yoenis Céspedes and the A’s competitive balance pick. The A’s seem to be following the mantra that when you think you have enough pitching, go and get more. On the surface, it may seem that the A’s don’t need anymore starting pitching, since their starters lead the AL in ERA. However, that can be misleading. The A’s play in a very pitcher friendly ball park and in front of one of the top defenses in the AL. If we look at the collective FIP- of their starting pitchers, a stat that filters out defense and adjusts for league and park factors, the A’s come in at a lowly tenth place in the AL with a 104 FIP-. Acquiring Lester will help bolster the starting rotation, provide lots of innings, and potentially move the struggling Jason Hammel to the bullpen. Lester will likely result in a 2 WAR upgrade, not to mention all the valuable contributions he’s likely to make in October.
I love Jonny Gomes and I’m sorry to see him go. He’s one of the most likeable, fun players in baseball and has a great sense of humor. Living in Boston, I’ve had the pleasure of frequently enjoying his antics. That being said, he was going to be a free agent after this season anyway and I suspect that the Red Sox weren’t going to re-sign him. He’s been a good, solid bench player the last couple of seasons, but has been a replacement level player this year. He doesn’t have any defensive value either, as he frequently misreads balls. Gomes’ greatest strengths are plate discipline and hitting lefties. One thing I love about Gomes is that he knows how to take a walk. Also, though he lacks for speed, he’s actually a smart baserunner. I’m sure Gomes will fit in nicely back on his old team as a platoon hitter, most likely splitting time with the reacquired Sam Fuld.
Yoenis Céspedes upgrades a Red Sox outfield that badly needs it. The 2-year defending Home Run Derby champion has tremendous raw power. He’ll have a great time in hitter-friendly Fenway park crushing balls off the Green Monster or over it. However, that power does come at a price: His OBP. He’s had a dreadful .298 OBP since the start of last season. He just doesn’t walk much, and it’s not likely that it’ll change given that he’s coming from an organization that preaches the value of a walk more than anybody. Céspedes does have a high amount of defensive value, though. He has 10 Defensive Runs Saved this year and has a career UZR of 8.5 in left field, and of course, who can forget that cannon of an arm.
It should be noted that Céspedes is only under contract through next season. That season should be worth a good 4 WAR, though. I’m looking forward to watching him in Boston, though the hilarious boys over at Céspedes Family Barbecue are taking it a little hard. The Red Sox also get the Athletics’ competitive balance pick for next year. It’s a round sandwiched between the 1st and 2nd rounds and should result in a good prospect.
From the A’s perspective, it’s a good trade. Losing Céspedes hurts, but in the end, they’re gaining more than they are losing. The jury is still out on how to evaluate the trade from the Red Sox point of view, though. It hinges on whether or not the Sox sign Lester back in the offseason. They’re a rich, large market team that only has ~$95 million committed for next year. They can easily sign Lester back, but make no mistake, it’s going to cost them. Their initial offer of 4 years, $70 million was an insult and I think it’s going to cost the Red Sox twice that much to get him back. They sign Lester back, and it’s a win. Fail, and the criticism wouldn’t be that it was a bad trade, but that the Red Sox had to trade him in the first place.
I like, but don’t love the trade of John Lackey. Allen Craig and Joe Kelly seems like a light offering in exchange for a 3 WAR pitcher that, due to a clause in his contract that kicked in when he had his Tommy John surgery, is making only $500,000 next year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good haul, I just think the Sox could’ve done better.
Allen Craig is having a terrible season, which doesn’t matter anymore since the Red Sox are out of it. I’m optimistic that Craig will bounce next year. This year he’s been plagued by injuries and a .281 BABIP that is far below his career BABIP of .330. He’s another player that will bolster the Red Sox weak outfield. It may also leave Shane Victorino, who has only 1 more year left on his contract, as trade bait. While Craig will help the outfield offensively, he’s a big negative defensively out there. He’s just way too slow out there. Craig is really a 1B/DH type, but obviously those positions are filled on the Red Sox. Each of the last 2 seasons, Craig’s oWAR was 3.0 but his dWAR was -1.5. That knocked down his overall WAR to 2.3 and 2.6 in 2012 and 2013, respectively1. Craig is locked up for 3 more seasons with an AAV of $8.5 million. That price for a player that is likely to provide at least 2.5 WAR a year is a good value, especially for a rich team like the Red Sox. Joe Kelly is at best, a 5th starter, but likely would be best as a middle reliever, especially as a long man. His numbers this year are far more indicative of his talent level than last season. I believe he’ll be a help to the Red Sox but I don’t expect him to have much of an impact.
John Lackey will certainly bolster a starting rotation that has been hit hard with injuries to Jaime García and Michael Wacha, not to mention how badly Shelby Miller has been struggling. He’s not as good as he was during his Angels days, but he’s on his way to a consecutive season of at least 3 WAR. I suspect that Lackey will be at least a 1 win upgrade the rest of the season and will be a solid contributor if the Cardinals make it to the playoffs.
What I like most from the Cardinals’ perspective is how this trade opens up playing time for their star prospect, Oscar Taveras. In yet another criticism of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, he has not been handling his future star well at all. When you call up a prospect, especially one of the caliber of Taveras, you play him everyday. Limiting a prospect’s playing time can stunt his development. Even if he’s struggling, if the talent is there, as it is with Taveras, you keep playing him. It’s not unlike what the Red Sox are doing with Jackie Bradley Jr. He has struggled badly at the plate, but the Sox kept playing him and he has improved.
The Red Sox mercifully ended the Stephen Drew sequel. I hated the signing when it happened, and it turned out so much worse than I thought it would. With an atrocious 56 wRC+ this season, Drew was obviously too rusty to be of any help. That’s not even the worst of it, though. Drew’s signing torpedoed Xander Bogaerts’ season. At the time of the signing, Bogaerts had a .390 OBP. That’s fantastic for a shortstop. Since the signing, his OBP has plummeted to .313. He has been below replacement level since then. This is one of the rare times when I’ll attribute soft factors to the decline. He’s a young, developing 21-year old who crashed and burned when Drew was signed. It just can’t be a coincidence. The signing clearly hurt his confidence. Hopefully the Drew trade will restore Bogaerts and get him back the reps at shortstop that he badly needs. He has the potential to dethrone Nomar Garciaparra as the greatest shortstop in Red Sox history.
On a side note, the Drew signing reeked of Red Sox president Larry Lucchino’s meddling. You’d think he would’ve learned his lesson after the Bobby Valentine disaster, but I guess not. Hopefully he’ll stop interfering with GM Ben Cherington’s work now. Cherington is an excellent GM.
When I first heard of Andrew Miller getting traded, I figured it would’ve been a nothing trade not worth writing about. Boy, was I wrong. It’s arguably the best trade of the day. In exchange for 2 months of a relief pitcher, the Red Sox acquired a prospect, LHP Eduardo Rodríguez, who projects as a solid future starter. He was actually the best minor leaguer moved today. The Red Sox fleeced the Orioles. It’s certainly an odd move from the Orioles perspective. Their bullpen needs help, sure, and Miller is a good reliever, but it’s a high price to pay.
Overall, the Red Sox had a great day at the trade deadline. Ben Cherington continues to prove why he’s one of the best GMs in the game. This season is lost. It’s a surprise, but baseball is weird like that. Though they absolutely have to sign Jon Lester back this offseason, the Sox have set themselves up nicely for 2015.
Part 2 coming soon!
- The reason why the sum of oWAR and dWAR does not equal the overall WAR is because adding the offensive and defensive components of WAR like that factors in the positional adjustment twice. I know it’s confusing, but I know that the inventors of Wins Above Replacement understand this sort of thing far better than I do. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a background in abstract mathematics and statistical analysis. If you want to learn more about WAR, click here. ↩