New Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington has made his first big move today in acquiring Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney for outfielder Josh Reddick and prospects Miles Head and Raul Alcantara. The Sox needed a closer. Now they have one. I’ve been hoping the Sox would go after Bailey for a while and am very excited with this deal.
Admittedly, I don’t know too much about Head and Alcantara. Both seem to be top-level prospects, though neither is near major league ready. Head hit 22 home runs and drove in 82 runs for Class-A Greenville and Salem last year. Alcantara started the year with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, posting a 0.75 ERA and 0.60 WHIP in 48 innings. He was promoted to Lowell where he struggled in his 17 1/3 innings there, giving up 25 hits and 12 earned runs, but still striking out 14. The upper-level of the Sox farm system was depleted by the trade for Adrian Gonzalez last year and the Sox organization has been looking to rebuild it since. This trade certainly doesn’t help that, but neither Head nor Alcantara will be ready for the majors (if they continue improving) for a few years and the Red Sox have greater depth in lower-level prospects.
Josh Reddick is a solid outfielder who started extremely hot for Boston last Summer, but faded badly down the stretch. While many analysts love Reddick’s swing, I’ve always had my doubts and have seen him as great trade bait. He has terrible plate discipline and I’ve always expected him to be a step faster. Nevertheless, he’s young and has potential but I’m still extremely happy with this trade.
In return, the Sox acquire a proven closer in Bailey and a fourth outfielder in Sweeney. Bailey has injury concerns, but if he can stay healthy, he will be a solid closer in the Boston bullpen. He’s 27 years old and is in his first year of salary arbitration. The New Jersey native will likely make $3.5-4 million this year, much less than the Sox would have shelled out to keep Jonathan Papelbon. Bailey had 24 saves in 26 opportunities last year with a 3.24 ERA and 1.10 WHIP and struck out 41 batters in 41 2/3 innings.
With Bailey as the closer and Mark Melancon, another recent acquisition, setting up, the Sox have an excellent back up of the bullpen. This also gives the Sox the ability to put Daniel Bard in the rotation and not worry about sacrificing his role in the bullpen. With Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz and Alfredo Aceves joining Bard, the Sox rotation have a potentially tremendous rotation, if Bard and Aceves can successfully make the transition from reliever to starter. Overall, this move sets up the Sox excellently for next year without sacrificing too much of the future. Well done, Ben!