Ah, Alejandro. We hardly knew ye.
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The move has been a long time coming, even if De Aza’s time with the club has felt short. De Aza was brought to Boston from the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the season, as the outfield log jam for the Red Sox looked more like a six-car pileup on the highway.
Other than Mookie Betts at center field, nobody was showing much consistency with the bat or the glove in right field or in left. Hanley Ramirez‘s injury woes followed him from the Los Angeles Dodgers; Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. spent much of the season in Triple-A Pawtucket; Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava could not seem to fill the void, hence Victorino being traded a month earlier; and Brock Holt was needed to help out in the infield, as veteran leader Dustin Pedroia has been sidelined from second base for months with an injury.
De Aza helped give the Red Sox outfield some consistency and veteran leadership, while Boston waited for the young talent to find their way back to the fold. De Aza played 60 games for Boston, hitting four home runs, 25 RBIs, and a slash line of .292/.347/.484. He played left field 33 times, 19 were starts and 14 were substitutions for either Ramirez getting injured or the fact that they just didn’t trust Han-Ram’s glove in close games. De Aza also played right field 24 times, 21 being starts. Both positions were played perfectly, at least according to his fielding percentages. You never felt nervous when the ball would be hit sharply to De Aza, as he handled everything like a solid outfielder would. Nothing highlight-reel worthy, but that’s not why he was brought in to the team in the first place.
Pat Bradley of NESN reported about the trade, and gave the rundown regarding Ysla:
"“The 23-year-old will report to High-A Salem. He pitched for San Francisco’s High-A affiliate in San Jose, going 3-6 with a 6.21 ERA in 33 games, including nine starts. In his last 18 relief appearances, Ysla has a 3.65 ERA with 47 strikeouts. He’s struck out 95 batters in 79.2 innings, good for a 10.7 K/9 ratio. Ysla earned postseason All-Star honors in each of his first two minor league seasons with the rookie-level Arizona League Giants in 2013 and Single-A Augusta in 2014. He combined to go 10-7 with a 2.51 ERA in 36 outings, 35 of which were starts.”"
With De Aza and cash going to the Giants, Dave Dombrowski, Boston’s president of baseball operations, must think pretty highly of the young lefty pitcher. Dombrowski didn’t even wait to hire a new general manager to take care of the day-to-day legwork for the deal, not that he needed to do so.
Lefty pitchers are always a great commodity, especially when you play in the American League East, where teams like the New York Yankees seem to have lefty bats all over their lineups. It’s not like the Red Sox were going to get a starter for De Aza, and they were motivated to sell their asset for as much as they could get with his contract was coming to an end after the regular season. Getting a young pitcher seems logical. Ysla doesn’t seem like he’s setting the world on fire with his play, but his consistency to strike out batters at a high rate is a fair comparison to De Aza’s own consistent play.
What Red Sox Nation should remember about De Aza is how hard he played for them. Every at-bat, even if he got out, was a tough-fought battle with the opposing pitcher. He took many plate appearances for many full counts and would also spoil many good pitches into foul territory, extending the pitch count so that the starter would have to leave the game earlier than usual. That was Red Sox manager John Farrell‘s openly-publicized strategy, which De Aza executed each time that he was given a chance.
Good luck, De Aza. Hopefully, you find a home in San Francisco, or another team next season, and settle down, without another trade to worry about. Fenway’s memories of you are all good ones.
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