CHICAGO (AP) — After a deal with Oakland for Rich Harden fell through, the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox were still able to find a starting pitcher to bolster their rotation Sunday.
They got oft-injured lefty Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners in a three-team trade before the deadline. Bedard’s stint with the Mariners has been problematic but his years in Baltimore were strong ones. And that’s the pitcher the Red Sox hope they will eventually see.
“All starting pitchers in the big leagues have nicks and knacks on them,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said Sunday in a conference call.
“Erik’s case, he has injuries in his past like most starting pitchers, but the first half he was throwing the ball well and he certainly looks to be on his way back to form.”
The Red Sox, whose deal for Harden fell apart late Saturday night, also got right-hander Josh Fields, a 2008 first-round draft pick.
Boston first sent minor league right-handers Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Dodgers in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson and then traded Robinson to Seattle with minor league outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang in exchange for Bedard and Fields.
Boston needs some insurance with starter Clay Buchholz sidelined by back problems.
“We thought, looking at our club, that we certainly need to add a starting pitcher, if nothing else, for depth purposes. That was the best way we could impact club right now,” Epstein said.
“We like the starting pitching we have, but there are health questions with (Buchholz). That would be a really nice way to improve the club. We were out looking at every available starter,” Epstein added. “It wasn’t clear we were going to be able to get anything done until the last minute.” Epstein continued: “We’re glad not just to get any starting pitcher, but a guy who is capable of shutting down any lineup in the league when he’s right, and can pitch big games down the stretch. He has the talent to take the mound in a pennant race if the opportunity presents itself.”
Red Sox manager Francona remembers facing Bedard when he was dealing for the Orioles.
“He was real tough on us,” Francona said.
“He’s a guy who has shown he can pitch in the American League East. First half of the year before he tweaked that knee he was pretty solid,” Francona said. “His stuff was good. We’re excited.”
Francona said he would talk to Bedard before lining up his rotation for the coming week.
“We’ll kind of build him back up,” Francona said. “He just came off the DL Friday. We’ll build him back up and get him in there.”
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had a key two-run single in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, was told of the trade after the victory.
“Oh, right on. Awesome. He’s got great stuff,” Pedroia said.
“He’s going to help us a ton. We’ve had some injuries on our pitching staff, so we need a guy to come in here and help,” Pedroia said. “Hopefully he does a great job for us. We’re excited to have him. It’s going to be a fun rest of the season.”
A day earlier, the Red Sox added some infield depth by acquiring Mike Aviles from Kansas City.
Bedard, who is 4-7 in 16 starts with a 3.45 ERA this season for the Mariners, wasn’t so good against an AL East team on Friday when he faced Tampa.
He showed the effects of his 32-day layoff after going on DL with a sprained left knee. He threw 57 pitches in just 1 1-3 innings and was tagged for five runs and three hits, walking four and striking out two.
The Mariners had sent Baltimore five players for Bedard before the 2008 season but he has struggled because of injuries.
Bedard was 15-14 with a 3.31 ERA in 46 appearances with the Mariners. He missed most of the 2009 season and all of 2010 after left shoulder surgery.
He was 40-34 in five seasons with the Orioles, going 15-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 2006 and 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA the following season.
“Looking at the market, most available pitchers were going to be free agents at end of the year. Erik falls into that category,” Epstein said.
“You hope the acquisition cost is appropriate for what you’re getting back and addresses a need with the club that can make a difference in the standings, and if we’re lucky enough, in the postseason.”
Fields, 25, the 20th player taken in the 2008 draft out of Georgia, was 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA for Double-A Jackson and 0-0 with a 6.23 ERA in nine games for Triple-A Tacoma.
“We’ve been talking Chiang for a while. Robinson came in a couple hours (before the deadline) as we discussed it,” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. “He was the guy we settled on.”
The Mariners have been struggling offensively — the Mariners designated Jack Cust for assignment Friday — and both 23-year-old prospects have power potential.
Robinson is hitting .293 with 26 home runs and 71 RBI for Triple-A Albuquerque.
“He’ll go to Tacoma and we’ll watch him there,” said Zduriencik, when asked if Robinson was close to a promotion. “We’ll see what happens.”
Chiang is hitting .338 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 76 RBI in 87 games for Double-A Portland.
Freelancer writers Travis Miller in Chicago and Bob Sherwin in Seattle contributed to this report.