|The Red Sox lost closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies on a four-year free agent deal in November, but thanks to a pair of trades with rebuilding clubs they've acquired two new ninth-inning relievers this offseason. In its most recent deal, Boston received righthander Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the Athletics for a three-player package centered around 24-year-old right fielder Josh Reddick. Oakland also acquired high Class A first baseman Miles Head and short-season righty Raul Alcantara from the Red Sox.
The Athletics have entered full rebuild mode, dealing away their three most attractive assets this offseason: Bailey plus rotation anchors Trevor Cahill (to the Diamondbacks) and Gio Gonzalez (to the Nationals). The Red Sox, meanwhile, add Bailey to a new-look bullpen that also will feature Mark Melancon, acquired from the Astros earlier this month. Sweeney joins a right-field scrum that also consists of Ryan Kalish and Darnell McDonald. A two-time American League all-star and the 2009 rookie of the year, Bailey missed much of the first half of 2011 with a strained right forearm. Both he and Melancon will be 27 years old on Opening Day.
Curiously, Sweeney has totaled exactly one home run and one stolen base in each of the past two seasons, and as one would guess, that's a rare combination for a regular or semi-regular outfielder. Only Juan Pierre (.045) and Ichiro Suzuki (.072) have lower isolated power figures than Sweeney (.083) over the past two years (min. 600 plate appearances). Sweeney will be hard-pressed to hold down a starting gig for a first-division club, so Boston is really buying Sweeney's versatility (he plays all three outfield spots) as well as his career .296 average and .352 on-base percentage versus righthanders.
|Josh Reddick, rf/lf
Age: 24. Position: RF (71 G), CF (38 G), LF (22 G).
Born: Feb. 19, 1987 in Savannah, Ga.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Bats: L. Throws: R.
School: Middle Georgia JC.
Career Transactions: Selected by Red Sox in 17th round of 2006 draft; signed Aug. 8, 2006.
The Athletics focused on getting at least one big league-ready player in each of their three December deals, and Reddick holds that distinction in this group. He improved his walk rate dramatically in Triple-A (and the majors) last season and unlocked the full extent of his power potential, smacking 21 homers and 27 doubles in 445 at-bats for Pawtucket and Boston. Reddick filled in for the Red Sox at various points last year when injuries felled left fielder Carl Crawford and right fielder J.D. Drew, and he played virtually everyday during the season's final three months. Reddick could top out near 20 home runs in a good year if the plate discipline gains he showed last year are real. He has prototype right-field tools with solid range and a strong, accurate arm.
|Miles Head, 1b
Age: 20. Position: 1B (116 G).
Born: May 2, 1991 in Griffin, Ga.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Whitewater HS, Fayetteville, Ga.
Career Transactions: Selected by Red Sox in 26th round of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 12, 2009.
Head signed for over-slot money in the 2009 draft and had a slow start to his pro career before busting out in 2011. Signed for $335,000 as a 26th-round pick, he was leading the low Class A South Atlantic League in hitting (.338) and OPS (1.021) last June when he earned a promotion to high Class A. He didn't tear up the Carolina League, but he also wasn't overmatched at age 20. Head has a loose righty swing, quick hands and a mature approach. He has above-average power potential but doesn't try to force the issue, instead focusing on driving the ball up the middle. He has a good sense of the strike zone and shortens his stroke with two strikes. Head doesn't provide much beyond offense. Managers rated him the SAL's best defensive first baseman and he does have soft hands, but he's a well below-average runner with substandard athleticism and range. Head will have to really produce at the plate to overcome the stigma against short, righthanded-hitting first baseman. (Jim Callis)
|Raul Alcantara, rhp
Born: Dec. 4, 1992 in Barahona, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Red Sox, July 2, 2009.
Alcantara has filled up his trophy case since signing out of the Dominican Republic for $500,000 in 2009. The Red Sox named him their minor league Latin program pitcher of the year in his pro debut, and the Gulf Coast League honored him as its pitcher of the year in his first year in the United States. Last summer, he led the GCL in ERA (0.75), WHIP (0.60) and opponent average (.147). Though he's far from a finished product, Alcantara is advanced for his age and had one of the highest ceilings among Boston's lower-level minor leaguers. Using an easy arm action and sound delivery, he pitches off a 90-95 mph fastball. His hard slider has the makings of a plus pitch, while he's still refining his changeup. He already throws strikes with ease, so the next step is improving his ability to locate his pitches where he wants. (Jim Callis)
|Red Sox Acquire|
|Andrew Bailey, rhp
Age: 27. Remaining Commitment: Arbitration-eligible for 2012-14 seasons ($465,000 salary in 2011).
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.
|Ryan Sweeney, of
Age: 26. Bats: L. Remaining Commitment: Arbitration-eligible for 2012-13 seasons ($1.4 million salary in 2011).
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.