Still no big deals as the trade deadline looms, but the Red Sox made a pair of trades today. Here they are:
- Red Sox acquire 1B Adam LaRoche from the Pirates for SS Argenis Diaz and RHP Hunter Strickland
LaRoche is a heck of a luxury for Boston. Mike Lowell is coming off hip surgery, and David Ortiz continues to look a tad old. LaRoche adds a good bat at first to the team. This will allow Boston to move Kevin Youkilis over to third easier, as well as rest David Ortiz more frequently if they desire. He may be on the team for only the rest of this year, but the Red Sox did not part with any of their top prospects.
Pittsburgh has no obvious internal replacement for LaRoche, but he will be a free agent at the end of the season. Neal Huntington must not have liked his chances to re-sign Adam. Both players acquired in the deal are young. Diaz's best chance to make the majors is with his glove. He is yet to hit, and does not look like much of a hitter. Strickland is even younger, but already doesn't get too many grounders or strikeouts. He looks like a servicable pitcher at best. It is not much of a haul for the Pirates unless Diaz becomes a real slick defender.
- Red Sox acquire OF/1B Chris Duncan and a player to be named later from the Cardinals for SS Julio Lugo
Lugo was designated for assignment a little bit ago, so a trade involving him was likely. Word is that the Red Sox will pick up some of Lugo's exorbitant salary. Still, Boston turned someone completely off their roster into a left-handed bat with a little power and experience.
The deal makes sense for St. Louis too. Duncan was struggling badly, and Khalil Greene's problems at shortstop have left the position depleted. Lugo will likely take over as the starter from Brendan Ryan, though I actually think he will be a slight downgrade. Ryan's defense is much better, and on top of that I wonder if Lugo will continue to hit as well as he has. Lugo will need to hit well to make up for the loss on defense.
These are two significantly different deals, but at the end of the day the Red Sox are now better than they were at the start of it. They got the better end of the LaRoche deal, and at worst the Lugo one is a wash. More than that, Boston showed great knowledge of their personnel, and how to make good deals. Mike Lowell's hip is a concern, but Youkilis is a better replacement than anything Boston could find on the trade market. Freeing Youkilis up to move around by improving the depth at first comes at a much cheaper price, and likely let the Red Sox field a better lineup than if they went after a third baseman and kept Youkilis at first.