Many fans have had conflicting opinions regarding the Jake Peavy trade that occurred before this year’s trade deadline. The Red Sox got a pitcher that will no doubt help them down the stretch this year as well as for all of next year assuming he stays healthy. Boston did not give up any of its major prospects, but they did surrender a former top prospect who had endeared himself to fans with a hot start to 2013: Jose Iglesias.
The general opinion among those who disagreed with the Peavy deal was that the Red Sox had traded a budding star for a year and a half of a veteran pitcher. However, there are more questions surrounding Iglesias than the stats indicate so far this year. Iglesias’s .321/.366/.401 slash line between the Red Sox and Tigers this year is boosted by an absurd first three months which saw him hit .409 boosted by an absurd .465 BABIP. Since then, in July and August, Iglesias is hitting just .225 as he has seen his BABIP drop to .257. The real Jose Iglesias is somewhere in between the two, but nearly all scouting and analysis of his minor league numbers point closer to the latter average than the former.
Don’t get me wrong, Iglesias is still a valuable player. However, that may come more from his defense than his offense in the future as his 13.7 UZR/150 at shortstop is phenomenal, though dabbling at third base has hurt his overall defensive numbers. Iglesias’s bat might materialize enough for him to be an quality player, but it is not a guarantee, though his defense might well keep him in the lineup as an everyday player. The Red Sox have plenty of shortstop prospects, however, from Xander Bogaerts at Pawtucket, to Deven Marrero at Portland, to Jose Vinicio at Greenville, all the way down to Tzu-Wei Lin at Lowell.
It looks like the Red Sox have the shortstop position set several years in advance, but more importantly in the middle of a pennant race, the Red Sox have had great production at shortstop this year from Stephen Drew. After a slow start to the season parallel to Iglesias’s scorching start, many were calling for Drew to be benched or traded in the purpose of giving Iglesias a shot at everyday playing time at shortstop.
Those fans have eaten their words, however, as Drew has heated it up at just the right time for the division-leading Red Sox. Ever since Iglesias was traded, Drew has had himself a high time at the plate as he has slashed .386/.472/.591 in August and has brought his season line up to .251/.335/.434. Now, on the surface that line looks solid, but not spectacular by any means. All it needs is a little perspective though; among American League shortstops, Drew ranks 2nd in OPS (.769) behind PED-user Jhonny Peralta, 3rd in WRC+ (107), and 1st in walk rate at 11.3%.
It’s true that Drew will likely be gone after 2013 while Iglesias stays in Detroit (barring a trade) for the next five years. However, the reason that Drew will likely be gone after 2013 is that Xander Bogaerts, a better prospect than Iglesias or Drew, is nearly major league ready and will get a cup of coffee in September. Bogaerts is a shortstop by trade and holds the most value there, so he should stay there until he proves that he must change positions. If Iglesias was still in the organization, Bogaerts would have to move to third base and displace Will Middlebrooks to who knows where. Ben Cherington knew exactly what he was doing trading Iglesias: selling high and clearing up a major logjam on the left side of the infield and I say job well done.