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Red Sox trade Anthony Ranaudo to Rangers for Robbie Ross

Robbie Ross started 12 games last season for the Rangers.Tony Gutierrez/AP

The Red Sox added to their lefthanded relief depth at the cost of a former top prospect.

The Sox announced Tuesday that they acquired lefthander Robbie Ross from the Rangers in exchange for righthander Anthony Ranaudo.

Ross works with a 90-94-mile-per-hour four-seam fastball with some cut, a solid to above-average changeup, and a cutter-slider. He opened his career with two dazzling seasons out of the Texas bullpen (2012-13). He went 10-2 with a 2.62 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings, and 3.0 walks per nine innings in 123 appearances , while showing an ability to get groundballs in volume. In those seasons, he actually enjoyed greater success against righthanded hitters (.223 average, .292 OBP, .282 slugging mark) than lefties (.280/.347/.425).


“His first years, pitching strictly as a reliever, he was really good — borderline dominant — if you take into consideration his age and the ballpark he was pitching in,” noted one talent evaluator.

In 2014, however, the 5-foot-11-inch lefty struggled after the Rangers gave him an opportunity to start. He opened the year in the rotation, and instead of leaning primarily on his fastball/changeup combination, the evaluator suggested that he altered his repertoire in a fashion meant to suit the role of being a starting pitcher, but with negative results.

Ross went 1-6 with a 5.70 ERA as a starter and couldn’t correct course back in the bullpen, posting a 7.85 ERA.

According to multiple team sources, the Sox plan to have Ross, 25, work out of the bullpen, potentially positioning him to be a late-innings option.

In Ranaudo, the Sox dealt a righthander who once ranked as their top pitching prospect after being taken in the supplemental first round out of LSU in 2010 (No. 39 overall), but who was overtaken for that role in recent years despite considerable minor league success. The 6-7 Ranaudo was named Pitcher of the Year in the Double A Eastern League in 2013 and the Triple A International League in 2014.


In his first exposure to the big leagues last year, Ranaudo showed excellent mound poise but was hit hard, going 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA and walking more batters (3.7 per nine innings) than he struck out (3.4 per nine) while giving up 10 homers in just 39⅓ innings .

Based on stuff, several evaluators described Ranaudo as having the upside of a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. Given the presence of several prospects with higher ceilings as starters (Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, Matt Barnes) along with other depth options such as lefty Edwin Escobar and Steven Wright, the Sox felt they could deal from surplus starting pitching depth in order to reinforce an area — lefthanded relievers — where they possess less inventory.

Both Ross and Ranaudo have two remaining minor league options.

Ross, as a player with two-plus years of service time, is not yet arbitration eligible. He has four seasons of big league control remaining before he is eligible for free agency, while the Rangers have six years of control of Ranaudo.

Robbie Ross At A Glance
A look at the lefthander's three-year career.
2012 TEX 6-0 2.22 0 65 55 21 16 3 23 47 1.2
2013 TEX 4-2 3.03 0 62.1 63 21 21 4 19 58 1.316
2014 TEX 3-6 6.2 12 78.1 103 65 54 9 30 51 1.698
Career 13-8 3.98 12 205.2 221 107 91 16 72 156 1.425
162 Game Avg. 5-3 3.98 5 86 93 45 38 7 30 65 1.425
DATA: baseball-reference.com
Globe Staff