Yesterday, the Oakland A’s shipped their All-Star caliber, yet injury prone, closer Andrew Bailey (as well as underachieving outfielder Ryan Sweeney) to the Boston Red Sox for… well… not that spectacular of a return, which is not-so-good news for the Royals. The Red Sox in return sent OF Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers- 3B/1B Miles Head and RHP Raul Alcantara.
Let’s look at what the A’s got, shall we?
Josh Reddick OF – Reddick is a 24 year-old, once-hyped, then cooled-off, then heated-back-up-again prospect in the Red Sox system. He apparently was the key to this trade, as the A’s were ready to deal Bailey to the Rangers (a division foe, mind you) until Boston decided to include him in the deal. Reddick is capable of playing CF, but his tool-set is more of that of a corner OF. In 87 games at the big league level last season, he hit .280/.327/.457 with 7 HR and 28 RBI. I would compare Josh Reddick to another Josh: Josh Willingham. Is he a star? No. But is he a solid, capable player? Yes. So far, at least. He showed up in Boston this past season and handled his business and has given no reason to believe he couldn’t do it again.
Miles Head is a short, stocky 3B/1B, who projects to be a poor(er) man’s Billy Butler. Last season he split time between both of the Red Sox Single-A affiliates, racking up a .299 AVG with 22 HR and 82 RBI. He’s probably a C-level prospect in most scout’s eyes and is more than likely just a name drawn from a hat.
Raul Alcantara could be interesting, being he is only 19 years old and still in Single-A ball. He made 13 starts with a 2.20 ERA, had a K:BB ratio of nearly 4:1, and held opponents to a .208 AVG.
And what did the A’s give up?
A young, controlled All-Star closer and an underachieving OF, in a sense that he could/should be better than his numbers show (which Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, AND Jeff Francouer all were before last season). Bailey will be thrust into closing in Boston after the departure of Papelbon and the possible relocation of Daniel Bard to the rotation. He should do as well as expected, assuming he resumes his pre-injury form. Sweeney may benefit from a change of scenery, just how all of our outfielders did. He’ll be given a shot to play RF in Boston, and should have a good chance to win the job. (Given – his competition includes Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, and according to Ben Cherington… Mike Aviles. Did I just type that?)
So what we saw from this trade is that the value of closers on the trade market is in a valley right now. Will it hit a peak again? We’ll see. Teams are more and more leaning toward the notion that they don’t necessarily need one pitcher to close out every single ballgame within reach. Look at what the Royals had last year. Holland, Crow, Coleman, Wood, and even Collins were all capable of closing the door in the 9th. Now throw Broxton in the mix, and we almost don’t need to have a shut-down closer anymore. So you would think that dealing Soria now could only help the club since we have a number of guys who could step in. But, then again, Soria is coming off the worst season of his career. It was so bad that he was even replaced by Aaron Crow for a short time (although Crow never saw an inning as the closer). Selling Soria now would be a classic case of selling low, wherein which the return would be low. That’s what the A’s did with Andrew Bailey. He was out last season and wasn’t given a chance to rebuild value. But the A’s are in a different place right now than Kansas City is. They are where we were a few years ago; where they’re selling off their biggest and best players (i.e. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Bailey) for prospect after prospect, after prospect.
Now clearly is not the time to deal Soria, simply because we are not going to get what we want and need (a.k.a. – a top of the rotation pitcher). Maybe we should take a look at what the Rangers have done with Alexi Ogando and what they’re currently doing with Neftali Feliz and instead of dealing Soria for a starter, convert him into one. Afterall, he has thrown a no-hitter in the minors. I know I’m not the first Royals Believer to suggest the move, but look at the upside: he becomes a valuable, durable piece of this team and the rotation for the next handful of years. He could be exactly what we’ve been looking for, and now we’re actually in the position where the team can afford to take the risk. The downside: he assumes his orignal role as the team’s closer and we probably trade him for an underwhelming package of prospects.
Do I think GMDM will actually ever convert Joakim “the Dream” into a starter? Most likely not. Soria’s been opposed to it ever since it was brought up two years ago and I’m sure he hasn’t changed his mind about it since. But it’s defintely worth a long, long look.