In the winter of 2008, Brian Cashman sold ownership on expanding their budget to include enough room to sign free agent 1B Mark Teixeira. Tex was close to signing with the Red Sox, and part of the rationale Cashman used at the time was that the signing would be pivotal for both franchises. It would allow the Yanks to move Nick Swisher to his natural position in RF, use their financial muscle to acquire a long term fix at 1B for just money and draft picks. From the Red Sox side, they would be looking at making trades to fill at 1B/C, depleting their farm system and forcing them to use their trade chips to fill a need, as opposed to a positional upgrade in CF or SS. Once those trade chips are spent, they obviously can’t be used when other trades present themselves and won’t be available if someone on your 25 man roster gets hurt and you’re looking fill the spot internally.
Taking all of this into account, I wanted to look at what the Red Sox gave up for Victor Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez, and see how it impacted the franchise.
Victor Martinez deal-Bryan Price (minors), Nick Hagadone (minors) and Justin Masterson.
Masterson was the centerpiece of this deal, and he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in the past 2 seasons for the tribe. His WAR has been -0.1 and -0.8 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. But his best work has always been as a reliever, and the Sox bullpen needed all the help it could get last year. Nick Hagadone has stumbled as a 24 year old in AA, where it appears more the advanced hitters took advantage of his spotty control. Bryan Price is a serviceable minor league reliever, with hittable stuff but good control. Big win on the deal for the Sox unless Masterson somehow morphs into Kevin Brown, but the fact they had to make the deal means these chips weren’t available to be used elsewhere. The benefit of having V-Mart on the MLB squad certainly outweighed that, but just picture the Sox having Tex at 1B AND V-Mart behind the dish, the balance of power in the AL East shifts dramatically. The roles could be reversed and the Yanks could be the ones dealing Montero and one of the Killer Bs right now for A-Gon.
Adrian Gonzalez deal-Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and PTBNL
The ink is barely dry on this trade, but we can already say a few things about it. The Sox gave up 3 of the top 6 prospects in their system. Kelly leads the pack, and while he’s still relatively new to pitching full-time his vast array of tools have wowed scouts for years. Rizzo hasn’t garnered nearly enough attention, he slugged 25 HRs as a 20 year old in High A/AA last year, 20 of them in AA. Strikes out too much, but who doesn’t these days. Fuentes was the Sox 1st round pick in 2009 (28th overall) and is still a baby at 19 years old.
No trade can be fully analyzed until years later, when you know whether these prospects have panned out or not. But clearly some of last year’s Red Sox injury issues could have been alleviated with Masterson in the fold as a swing man. He couldn’t have been much worse than the 43 year old Tim Wakefield, who made 19 starts to a 5.34 ERA. Further, the Sox could have employed Masterson as a reliever (where he’s been far more effective) to aid their sagging bullpen. Or they could have used Masterson, Hagadone, Kelly, Rizzo or Fuentes in another package to find an outfielder (or two). As an 89 win team in 2010 that was battered with injuries, they needed all the help they could get. Brian Cashman was right, the deal had enormous ramifications for both franchises.