Boston Red Sox acquire Andrew Bailey

After acquiring Mark Melancon earlier in the offseason after watching closer Jonathan Papelbon leave, the Boston Red Sox have decided to continue their quest in adding high-end relievers to fill the void left by Paps. Not to mention, closer-in-waiting Daniel Bard will likely have his name penciled into the rotation come opening day. The bottom line is that the Red Sox needed another quality arm in the bullpen, and they just added one in former Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey. The Sox also have Ryan Sweeney coming their way, and they parted ways with fourth outfielder Josh Reddick and prospects Raul Alcantara and Miles Head.

Alcantara is a pitching prospect who split time playing rookie ball and in low-A in 2011, and he tossed 48 innings of rookie ball to go with 17.1 innings in low-A. His ERA in those innings was 2.20, and he walked just 1.7 hitters per nine. However, his low strikeout rate of 6.9 K/9 is somewhat disturbing, and I don’t consider Alcantara a must-see prospect by any means.

Miles, not Luther, Head is a converted third baseman who is now a first baseman due to some poor defense. He can hit, and Head split time in Class A and high-A with 298 and 259 plate appearances respectively. He hit 22 home runs in those 557 PAs last season with a .299/.372/.515 triple slash. Head struck out 109 times to go with his 37 doubles, and he is a good hitter with his power and ability to get on base. However, he plays atrocious defense and will need to really develop as a hitter in order to have a shot at starting in the Bigs. I can see him as an MLB player down the road, but I don’t think he’ll be a good one.

Neither prospect really enthralls me, and Josh Reddick doesn’t exactly look like a budding star at this point. I think he’s a league-average starter at best, and many people much smarter than me- to steal from Dave Cameron- are saying that Reddick is a fourth outfielder. Reddick was worth 1.9 WAR last season and was backed by some great defensive play, but it should be noted that he also had a wRC+ of 105. Bill James projects that he will be a 1.9 WAR player if given 493 plate appearances, and I have to agree with BIS on this one. He’s a guy who hovers at or a little below the league average and has as much downside as upside right now who is worth around 1.5 WAR per season.

Ignore the 2009 season, because Ryan Sweeney is barely above a replacement player who was worth 0.1 WAR last season and 0.9 WAR in 2010. His insanely high defensive grade skewed his 2009 season’s WAR (4.2), but it’s safe to say that his low UZR has contributed to the WAR totals from the past two seasons. Sweeney wasn’t that much worse offensively and had a 92 wRC+ last season in 299 PAs (100 wRC+ in 2009).

Sweeney is a 1.2 WAR player if we use James’s projections, and it’s fair to assume that Sweeney will be a 1 WAR player when given 340 plate appearances. He isn’t that much worse than Josh Reddick, and he’s obviously not the prize in this deal; Andrew Bailey alone resides at the bottom of the cereal box.

Bailey is honestly a little overrated right now, but he’s 27 and improving. Bailey hasn’t quite matched his electrifying rookie campaign in which he was worth 2.4 WAR and struck out 9.83 batters per nine and pitched in 83.1 innings in total. He was worth 1 WAR the year after and 0.9 WAR last season, and Bailey has pitched in just 90.2 innings combined in the past two seasons. He wasn’t healthy last season and missed 53 games with an injury to his throwing arm and struggled with a back and elbow (also to his right arm) injury in 2010.

Boston’s new closer’s first order of business is to regain his health, and he was able to post FIPs of 2.96 and 2.86 in the past two seasons respectively. He struck out 8.86 batters per nine last season and walked just 2.59 every nine innings, and he should be able to adjust to his new home ballpark. Although Bailey’s splits are unsightly, it all has to do with sample size and WAR already takes park adjustments into account.

A main concern in the disparity between the Coliseum and Fenway is the amount of home runs allowed, but Bailey’s career 3.40 xFIP should quickly quell these concerns. Andrew Bailey is a 1.5 WAR closer when fully healthy. He’s got good peripherals, and a sweet fastball-cutter combo to go with a curveball that he drops to get ahead in counts. He doesn’t allow much contact, gets hitters to chase more than they should, and he has a career SwStr% of 11.8%. He was actually a little unlucky this season, and Bailey will fit in as the new closer for the Red Sox.

When looking at the projected WAR totals for this deal, the two prospects involved will need to be collectively worth at least 1 WAR per season to give the Athletics the advantage in value. I honestly don’t see this happening, and this was a poor haul for Billy Beane. Closers are usually overrated on the market, but the Sox got a relatively cheap one- as far as his contract goes. The Sox definitely won this deal and really upgraded their bullepn with the addition of Bailey, and they even won this deal in terms of value when making the upgrade.

Be sure to check out all of Call to the Pen’s transaction breakdowns for the 2011-12 offseason.

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