In late August of 1990, the Boston Red Sox pulled the trigger on one of the most infamous waiver deadline deals in Bean Town history; and I’m hoping they haven’t done it again.
On August 30th of 1990, the Sox sent one of their top prospects, a first/third baseman named Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for relief pitcher Larry Andersen. Andersen pitched well for Boston, allowing just three runs in 22 innings of work, helping the Sox nab a playoff berth in the process. But Boston was knocked out by Oakland in the ALCS and Andersen, now a free agent, signed on with the San Diego Padres.
Bagwell blossomed into a franchise player for the Houston Astros, winning not only the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year award, but was also named the 1994 NL MVP. Then-Boston General Manager, Lou Gorman, would defend the move, saying it made sense at the time, with Scott Cooper looking more and more like the third baseman of the future, and Mo Vaughn likely handling first for the years to come, there just wasn’t any room for Bagwell on the depth chart.
Fast forward nearly 23 years, to July 30th, just before the non-waiver trade deadline. Once again, Boston finds themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot, with a lack of reliable pitching and a wealth of quality prospects. BoSox brass decides to send defensive wizard, Jose Iglesias, to the Detroit Tigers in the three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Boston.
Iglesias has always been known for his glove, a skill that should have been able to carry his below average hit tool straight to the Major Leagues. But this year, something changed; Iglesias found his bat, the slick fielding Cuban has hit a combined .319 between Boston and Detroit. Blocked at third by Will Middlebrooks and with the combination of Xander Bogaerts, Garin Cecchini, and Deven Marrero advancing through the system quickly, Iglesias’ future in the organization was more uncertain than ever. Now given the chance to start full-time, in place of the suspended Jhonny Peralta, Iglesias has performed fantastically, even eliciting a vote of confidence from Tigers’ GM Dave Dombroski.
While, in the case of Andersen, hindsight is 20/20, the Iglesias deal looks like it can’t go wrong.
Peavy, in this case, is no mere one or two month rental, instead, Boston acquired a year and a half of a proven starting pitcher. Frankly, Iglesias has no track record of even being a passable hitter, as he failed to hit above .270 in every one of his minor league seasons, save 2010 at AA Portland.
Rather than the perennial MVP threat, and franchise cornerstone that they surrendered for two months of Andersen, the Sox seem to have given up less for more. Iglesias may constantly threaten for a Gold Glove, but he may never be more than that. Jake Peavy, however, could turn into a key piece in driving the Sox to a World Series berth or title.
So, here’s to hoping that we’ve learned from our mistakes, and not pulled the trigger on Jeff Bagwell redux.