SAN DIEGO — Yoenis Cespedes hit four home runs and drove in 16 runs in his first 19 games for the Red Sox last season. The outfielder, obtained from Oakland for Jon Lester at the trade deadline, looked like a perfect fit for Fenway Park.
It didn’t last. Cespedes was traded to the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, the lead player in a package to obtain righthander Rick Porcello.
Once the Red Sox signed Rusney Castillo in August and then Hanley Ramirez in November, it became obvious Cespedes would be traded.
General manager Ben Cherington said he spoke to “many” teams about Cespedes in recent weeks.
“There were plenty of scenarios where we were keeping him. We were not looking to trade Yoenis Cespedes,” Cherington said. “But as we got into the offseason and looked at what the alternatives were and the need to build the rotation and the depth we have in the outfield . . . it just felt like it made sense.”
Cespedes and Porcello are entering the final year of their contracts. The Red Sox can give Porcello a qualifying offer and gain a draft pick if he signs with another team. But under the terms of his contact, Cespedes must be released following the season and cannot be given a qualifying offer.
The Red Sox now have four outfielders for three spots. Ramirez will play left with Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Shane Victorino in center and right.
“We feel confident we’ll figure out a solution that works,” Cherington said. “It’s something we’ll figure out closer to the season.”
Victorino is coming off back surgery and his status for spring training is uncertain. The other factor is that Betts projects as the leadoff hitter.
Cherington sees Allen Craig as a backup for right field, left field, first base, and third base. The Sox also would have Daniel Nava and Brock Holt on the bench.
Deal still on hold
The Red Sox agreed on a deal Wednesday night that would send Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, and a third player to Arizona for lefthander Wade Miley.
The deal remained on hold Thursday.
“We’re still squabbling about the extra player,” Arizona GM Dave Stewart told reporters who cover the Diamondbacks. “If we can get through that then we’ll be OK.”
With the Red Sox obtaining three starters, the best avenue to the majors for young starters such as Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Anthony Ranaudo might be through the bullpen if they are not traded.
“I think it’s more likely than not that at least one of the spots in the bullpen if not more than that will be filled by some of the group that’s here,” Cherington said.
The Sox will look externally for bullpen help, particularly a lefthander. But clearly opportunities will be there for those now seemingly out of the rotation mix.
Workman pitched well out of the bullpen in 2013 before faring poorly as a starter last season. Barnes pitched five games in relief in September. Ranaudo has been exclusively a starter.
The Kansas City Royals turned middling starter Wade Davis into a ferocious setup man last season. For some pitchers, shorter stints translate into better velocity and the Red Sox could find that formula in their prospects.
Rule 5 swap
The Red Sox selected Houston righthander Jandel Gustave in the Rule 5 Draft, then traded him to Kansas City for cash considerations. The Sox also lost a player in the draft. Righthander Jason Garcia was the fourth overall pick, going to the Astros. Garcia was a 17th-round draft pick in 2010 who has yet to advance beyond low Single A. He has primarily been a starter and has a career ERA of 4.69. Garcia had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and pitched in 14 games last season. He has a fastball in the high 90s but career-long control problems. Under Rule 5 rules, the Astros would have to keep Garcia on the major league roster or offer him back to the Red Sox . . . The Cubs have until Monday to send the Red Sox the player to be named in the trade that sent Felix Doubront to Chicago in July. It is not expected the Red Sox will receive a notable player . . . If De La Rosa and Webster are in fact traded, the Red Sox will have none of the five players obtained from the Dodgers in 2012 for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto. Ivan De Jesus Jr., James Loney, and Jerry Sands were gone from the Sox quickly. Only Crawford and Gonzalez remain with the Dodgers and Los Angeles would be thrilled to trade Crawford.