On Wednesday, the Red Sox acquired RP Mark Melancon from the Astros for SS/IF Jed Lowrie and SP/RP Kyle Weiland.
Earlier today, the Reds acquired SP Mat Latos from the Padres for 1B/OF Yonder Alondo, C Yasmani Grandal, SP Edinson Volquez and RP Brad Boxberger.
I know there’s a fairly strong desire among a lot of fans to anoint a ‘winner’ of a trade as soon as it’s consummated, but to me both of these trades look like good moves for all parties.
In Melancon, the Red Sox are getting a very solid relief option to pitch some high leverage innings at the back of their bullpen. Lowrie is the big get for the Astros is this trade (Weiland is just a throw in) and will be a good upgrade over Clint Barmes at shortstop for a team in the middle of a major rebuild. There are questions about his platoon splits, defense and health, but a versatile infield who can hit with power is a nice commodity to have. As a Red Sox fan I like the idea of using Lowrie as a chip to upgrade the bullpen although I did think he would bring back a slightly better arm than Melancon. That’s only a minor gripe though and is pretty much offset by the risk that the Astros are taking on with Lowrie.
It was no secret that the Reds would use this off season to strengthen their pitching staff and possibly bring in a new shortstop. Having a strong farm system with depth a multiple positions allowed them to bring in Latos who is likely to be their best starter in 2012. The package they gave up is a high price to pay but it also reflects the value on the trade market of young, cost-controlled pitching. Grandal could be a first division catcher but the Reds are that rare team with depth behind the plate. The Rangers of a few years ago are a reminder that it can be worth trading from these positions of strength before the assets start to depreciate. Alonso was never going to get a look in with Joey Votto around and his arrival in San Diego raises the question of a second trade to resolve the question of who plays first base for the Padres long term, Alonso or Anthony Rizzo. If it was my decision I’d be more inclined to flip Alonso. They are pretty comparable talents right now but it’s the two year age gap that really swings it for me. Volquez will benefit from moving to PETCO (who doesn’t?) and Boxberger should be a nice enough reliever so it’s a very good package but also a pretty fair one for a pitcher of Latos’ calibre.
By 2014/15 maybe we’ll look back and see two lopsided trades, but right now I think all four teams have made trades that addressed a clear need. Twitter in particular seems to call for instant reactions to any move a team makes, as I saw on my timeline when a few people assumed Alonso was the only piece going to the Padres for Latos, but I’m calling both of these trades draws for now.