|Faced with the prospect of playing at least a third of the season without last year’s MVP runner-up Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox swung a trade to acquire veteran center fielder Marlon Byrd from the Cubs. Boston sent 25-year-old righthander Michael Bowden, who made the Opening Day roster in large part because he was out of options, as well as a player to be named to Chicago for Byrd and virtually all of the $6.5 million remaining on his contract.
The Red Sox sent 22-year-old lefty Hunter Cervenka to the Cubs to complete the trade on May 15.
Not only did the Red Sox lose Ellsbury to a subluxation of his non-throwing shoulder, but Jason Repko, Ellsbury’s backup, recently separated his shoulder when he crashed into Fenway Park’s center-field wall.
Byrd began the 2012 season in a 3-for-43 funk, but he’s a career .278 hitter who takes over in center on an everyday basis in Boston. He has hit just .230 (73-for-317) since last July 2, the date he returned from a gruesome beaning by Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves, now his teammate, that resulted in multiple facial fractures.
|Michael Bowden, rhp
Born: Sept. 9, 1986 in Winfield, Ill.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Waubonsie Valley HS, Aurora, Ill.
Career Transactions: Selected by Red Sox in supplemental first round (47th overall) of 2005 draft; signed June 24, 2005.
The Red Sox designated Bowden for assignment on April 15, but the 2005 supplemental first-rounder and Chicago-area native will have a much longer leash with the Cubs, who also have bought low on other one-time top prospects such as Ian Stewart, Chris Volstad and Travis Wood as the new front office rebuilds the organization’s talent base. Chicago senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod drafted Bowden seven years ago when he served as Red Sox scouting director. (The same is true of Cubs Triple-A first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a 2007 sixth-round pick by Boston.) Bowden’s strikeout rate atrophied as he climbed the minor league ladder, dropping from 8.2 per nine innings to Doube-A to 7.1 in Triple-A, and his platoon split also became more pronounced even as he moved to the bullpen in 2010. He logged 325 innings for Pawtucket in parts of four seasons with the Triple-A club, holding righthanded batters in check with a short arm action and crossfire delivery (they hit a mere .194 against him) but allowing lefties to bat .276/.333/.440 in 556 plate appearances. Big league lefties have put up an .884 OPS in 121 confrontations. As a reliever, Bowden sits in the low 90s with his fastball and mixes in a decent low-80s slider.
|Hunter Cervenka, lhp
Born: Jan. 3, 1990 in Baytown, Texas.
Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Sterling HS, Baytown, Texas.
Career Transactions: Selected by Red Sox in 27th round of 2008 draft; signed Aug. 15, 2008.
In 16 relief outings with low Class A Greenville during the past two seasons Cervenka has walked 30 batters in 35 2/3 innings. His command has been equally as unimpressive as his control, seeing as he’s allowed 37 hits—good for a 1.88 WHIP. Cervenka has struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings in that time, thanks to a firm low-90s heater and low-80s slider. He’s physically maxed out, though he could have situational utility, owing to his performance versus lefties this season (3-for-16 with three walks and seven strikeouts).
|Red Sox Acquire|
|Marlon Byrd, cf
Age: 34. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $6.5 million (Cubs send $6.5 million).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.