Faux Winter Meetings: Red Sox trade for Andrew Cashner



Welcome to the winter, with the very first (faux) Red Sox trade! The Red Sox have completed their first move of the 2014 Faux Winter Meetings, and Padres ace pitcher Andrew Cashner is on his way to Boston along with left-handed relief pitcher Alex Torres. To acquire the two pitchers, the Red Sox have sent Yoenis Cespedes, Garin Cecchini, Sean Coyle and Travis Shaw to San Diego. The Red Sox will also eat $3.5 million of the $10.5 million remaining on Cespedes’ current deal.

Making a trade is never an easy decision, as parting with organizational pieces needs to be a carefully deliberated decision. But the Red Sox have a very pressing need for a frontline starting pitcher and a lefty out of the bullpen and were able to fill both those needs while dealing from their own depth in this trade. Andrew Cashner is a 28-year-old right-hander who looked like a Cy Young Candidate last year, before dealing with nagging injuries, pitching to a 2.35 through the middle of May. Cashner was still able to achieve a 2.55 ERA across 19 starts in 2014.

Torres should be familiar to Red Sox fans, as the former Rays pitcher was a dominant bullpen force in 2013, with a 1.91 ERA. He will look to replace Andrew Miller as the team’s high leverage left-handed weapon in relief. With a bullpen largely comprised of right-handers (Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara) and unproven left-handers (Drake Britton, Tommy Layne), Torres should hopefully offer the Red Sox some stability in what was a shaky bullpen this year.

There is always risk in bringing pitchers to Fenway Park, especially from Petco Park, but Cashner was a bona fide number one starter for the Padres, and the hope is that he can achieve a similar level of production in Boston. Torres is a proven AL East player, and will be a major tool for Manager John Farrell, working in relief next year.

As for the departing players, the team elected to deal away recently acquired Yoenis Cespedes, after concluding that his long term future with the team was ultimately too uncertain to risk losing him for nothing. Coyle was blocked at multiple positions, as was Shaw, but the team will also lose LH 3B Garin Cecchini. Some scouts believed he would be a long term solution at the hot corner, but his struggles defensively at 3B, combined with a serious difficulty transitioning to Triple A Pawtucket raised too many questions.

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The Red Sox plan to compete in 2015, and paid careful attention this year to how integrating young players like Jackie Bradley Jr. could lead to black holes in the lineup while the player acclimates to major league pitching. The front office concluded that they could not afford to gamble on inserting the unproven Cecchini into a position that is relied upon as a major source of offense in the short term. The team also could ultimately end up deciding to move SS Xander Bogaerts to 3B in the near future if they decide he is unable to play adequate defense in the middle infield.

Cespedes will also be missed for his power, but this creates a better chance of upstart Mookie Betts finding his way onto the 25-man roster out of spring training, and the team believes that a healthy season from Mike Napoli and bounce back years from Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts, will help to replace the power they are losing with Cespedes. Some also believe the recently signed Rusney Castillo will provide surprising pop if he can tap into the raw power within his strong frame.

This is just the first domino of the offseason to fall and the team ultimately still has many questions to answer in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned for more transactions.