Andrew Bailey Traded to the Red Sox as Oakland’s Fire Sale Continues

The rumors had been hot and heavy, but today the deal finally went down. The Red Sox continued their bullpen rehab by acquiring former Athletics closer Andrew Bailey for 25-year-old outfielder Josh Reddick. Also included in the deal is outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who heads to Boston and two very young prospects, Miles Head and Raul Alcantera, who head to the Oakland system.

This move fits precisely what each team was looking to accomplish. The Red Sox September collapse was caused in large part by a failing and ailing pitching staff and the loss of long-time closer, Jonathan Papelbon, chopped away some of the already thin depth in the pen. However, the Sox made their first retooling move earlier this offseason by trading for Astros closer Marc Melancon and now they’ve added their second closer to the mix in Bailey.

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Bailey is under team control through 2014, but will start to get expensive as he heads into his arbitration years starting this season. This seems like the only reason that the A’s would trade him at this point. They also move Ryan Sweeney, who earned $1.4M in 2011 and heads into his second and third years of arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2014. In exchange, the A’s receive a 25-year-old outfielder whose arbitration clock won’t start until 2014.

For Boston, Bailey looks to become their new closer, moving Melancon to a setup role with Daniel Bard set to make a run at the starting rotation. Bailey may have the closer label on him, but he’s far from a sure thing in that role. He has missed time over the past two seasons due to arm problems (shoulder and forearm) and has only been worth about two wins above replacement over that time. He’s also a fly-ball pitcher that could suffer from a move out of spacious Oakland to comfy Fenway.

Josh Reddick, the main piece headed to Oakland, is a confusing player. His raw skills and upside had always been highly rated, but when all was said and done, he had only hit .278/.332/.500 in five minor league seasons. Reddick’s Triple-A numbers are even more daunting, where in parts of three seasons he hit a combined .234/.300/.449. He did bust onto the scene in Boston last season, hitting an insane .393/.429/.672 with a .431 BABIP in 70 plate appearances before the all-star break. However, those numbers died off quickly, as he hit only .244/.293/.389 in the second half.

In other words, he doesn’t look like a star at all and might be nothing more than a low cost replacement level player in Oakland. The upside is that he hits .275/.320 with 20 home runs and plays adequate defense. We’ll see…

Ryan Sweeney is nothing more than a busted prospect at this point in his career. Once rated as the 42nd best prospect by Baseball America way back in 2005, Sweeney actually had a 4.2 fWAR season in 2009, but that was due in large part to a fielding score that registered at an incredible 20.6. He hasn’t come remotely close to posting such a score since. In fact, Sweeney has registered negative FLD scores in limited playing time over the last two seasons. At best, he might hit .295/.350 with very limited power and speed, but there is certainly no guarantee in that happening.

As for the two prospects headed to Oakland, Project Prospect’s Lincoln Hamilton (via Twitter) suggests that Miles Head becomes an average first baseman in a “perfect world” and that Raul Alcantera is a “total flyer” who is “super far away” at this point.

This trade seems like a clear win for the Red Sox, who get the best player in the deal, a relief pitcher that will almost certainly be an asset should he remain healthy. In exchange, they gave up a player that might be nothing more than a fourth outfielder on most teams and two young, not highly rated prospects that are years away from approaching the upper levels. The Sox also receive a fourth outfielder that basically replaces Reddick.

Unfortunately for the A’s, they really had no choice in moving Bailey. They are desperately strapped for cash and have no other choice but to trade away players that are about to get expensive in hopes that they can tread water until (if) they get their new stadium deal.

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