The Red Sox made four trades on Thursday, adding five players. But the offshoots of those deals could prove to be just as significant.
Sending shortstop Stephen Drew to the Yankees, where he will play second base, allows the Red Sox to return Xander Bogaerts to shortstop and activate Will Middlebrooks from the disabled list to play third base.
“One of the things that we wanted to do if we could was find a way to let Bogey go back to short and give him an opportunity to play there a lot the rest of the way and give Middlebrooks a chance to come up and play a lot at third,” general manager Ben Cherington said.
Bogaerts was the regular shortstop until June 2, the day Drew was added to the roster. Bogaerts was hitting .296 with an .816 OPS at the time. He has hit .182 with a .517 OPS since and made 10 errors over 54 games.
Bogaerts acknowledged his disappointment at the switch after playing only shortstop throughout spring training. Now he has two months to prove to the Red Sox he can stay there.
“He would tell you that’s he’s gone through some challenges this year. We’ve all seen it. Nothing at all has changed in our opinion of him as a player. He’s going to be a really good player for us for a long time,” Cherington said.
“We said last winter we believed he can play short for us. That didn’t change because we signed Stephen Drew, despite the attention around it . . . In the long run I don’t worry about Xander Bogaerts because he’s going to be good. He’s going through stuff but he’s going to be good.”
Middlebrooks started the season as the third baseman but has played only 21 games in the majors because of two stints on the DL. Middlebrooks hit only .197 in those games.
Now he gets another chance to prove he is part of the team’s future. The 25-year-old has hit .250 with three home runs in 11 games for Triple A Pawtucket as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment.
“It’s exciting to come back,” Middlebrooks said. “That’s where I want to be and I like the lineup we could have.”
Middlebrooks has 34 home runs over 686 major league at-bats and could provide some much-needed power to the lineup.
The Red Sox, Cherington indicated, also will be putting right fielder Shane Victorino on the DL because of a back injury. He left Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning.
Victorino has played only 30 games this season because of hamstring and back injuries.
Cherington said the Red Sox are planning to use newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes in right field. Cespedes played some right field in Cuba but has not played the position in the majors.
Allen Craig, obtained from the Cardinals on Thursday, is being viewed as a left fielder. He also can play first base.
Ranaudo on the way
With John Lackey traded, righthander Anthony Ranaudo will make his major league debut on Friday night against the Yankees.
Ranaudo is 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 21 starts for Pawtucket. He allowed two earned runs over 17⅔ innings in his last three starts and struck out 12.
What about Holt?
Leadoff hitter Brock Holt, 12th in the American League in batting average at .302, may need to be more versatile than ever with the changes to the roster. He has started at seven positions.
“That’s something [manager John Farrell] will decide. I would think you’ll see him used in much the same way that he has, moving around and playing a lot, outfield and infield,” Cherington said. “He’s earned a lot of playing time and I would expect he’ll continue to get it.”
Cespedes has an unusual contract. He is signed for $10.5 million next season but has the right to become a free agent with only four years of service time. If Cespedes were not re-signed by Oct. 31, 2015, or five days following the final game that season, he would be released under terms of his deal.
The Red Sox would not be able to make Cespedes a qualifying offer.
Craig is signed through 2017 with a team option for $13 million or a $1 million buyout for 2018. He is owed $25.5 million from 2015-18.
The Red Sox, who included $1.15 million in the Athletics deal, also will receive Oakland’s “competitive balance” round B draft pick in 2015. That pick will come at the end of the second round, roughly No. 70.
Had the Red Sox lost Jon Lester as a free agent, they would have received a supplemental first-round pick as compensation. By trading him, they receive Cespedes and a pick.
Righthander Joe Kelly, who was obtained from the Cardinals, is 2-2 with a 4.37 earned run average in seven starts this season. He is 17-14 with a 3.25 ERA in 68 career games, 38 starts. He was on the DL much of this season with a left hamstring strain.
“In Kelly, we feel like we have a guy who is a developing, advancing major league starting pitcher. Certainly not a finished product but really talented and someone our scouts have liked for a long time,” Cherington said.
“Highly athletic, really good stuff, and someone we feel can quickly develop into a core part of our rotation. He was an important addition as we go into the offseason. We wouldn’t have done the Lackey deal without getting someone like that back.”