Amid a flurry of smaller deals, the Red Sox landed one of the trading deadline's big fish on Friday, sending right-hander
The difference between Martinez's 22.4 runs above replacement and Red Sox catcher
Martinez has split his time between catching and first base this season, but the Red Sox already have the latter position manned by their top hitter,
Youkilis could slide over to third base, where he's already started 28 games this season and 150 in his major league career, but
Further complicating matters, the Red Sox followed the Martinez trade by getting rid of newly acquired back-up first baseman
Given this puzzle of corner infielders, the impact of the Martinez acquisition on the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox is entirely in the hands of manager
So rather than fill a hole, Martinez gives the Red Sox depth. An injury or collapse suffered by Youkilis, Ortiz, Lowell or Varitek won't sting much with Martinez around. Otherwise, Francona will have at least one of the five on the bench available for pinch-hitting duties. Meanwhile, acquiring Martinez kept him away from the division-rival Rays, who have a giant hole behind the plate and would have benefitted from the addition of Martinez more than any other team in the majors. With the Rays just 4 1/2 games behind the Sox in the Wild Card race, that's addition by diversion.
Beyond this year, the Red Sox also now have the inside track on extending Martinez. After trading
Taking a quick look at those pitchers, Masterson was well-established in the Boston bullpen and survived a correction in his opponents' batting average on balls in play this year by reducing his walks and increasing his strikeouts for a fine 2.68 K/BB. A minor league starter, he has turned in solid spot-work in the big-league rotation, and will slot right into the Indians' rotation. A righty with a low three-quarter delivery, he's murder on right-handed hitters, and though he's unlikely to be more than a mid-rotation starter, he's already there at age 24.
The two minor league starters were the Red Sox's free-agent-compensation picks from 2007 and 2008 for the departures of
Price, a 22-year-old right-hander, was drafted out of Rice last year where he pitched primarily in relief. Converted to starting, he was pitching well beside Hagadone in the South Atlantic League, but has been hit hard since a late-May promotion to High-A. Though the Indians said they only wanted starting pitchers in this deal, I wouldn't be surprised to see Price move back to the bullpen before he reaches the majors.
Still, given that the last two months of Martinez's contract were worth no more than a pair of draft picks to Cleveland, the Indians have done well to get three compelling pitchers, one an established major leaguer, while sloughing off the remainder of Martinez's 2009 salary. It's not a great return, but it's an appropriate one. Call this one a win-win, and start queuing up for your playoff tickets in Boston.