Revisiting one recent trade the Red Sox wish they could have back

No, not that one.
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Back in February of 2021, the Boston Red Sox made a trade in which they sent two nondescript pitchers and some cash to the Rays in exchange for a couple interesting prospects.

Ronaldo Hernández was a top-15 prospect for the Rays at the time and Nick Sogard had some upside as a defense-first middle infielder. In exchange for those two, the Sox sent Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa, neither of whom had a track record of success in the majors.

Unfortunately for the Sox, the Rays were able to unlock Springs' arsenal and transform him into a stud in 2021 and 2022.

Prior to leaving Boston, Springs had made 57 of his 59 major league appearances out of the bullpen. He pitched to a 5.42 ERA with a 4.66 FIP and hadn't shown much in the way of upside. He had an improved strikeout rate in 2020, but that was over a 20-inning sample, so the Sox felt he was more useful as a trade chip than a low-leverage bullpen piece.

The Red Sox would take back the Jeffrey Springs trade in a heartbeat if they could

As it turns out, Springs was just a couple of tweaks away from becoming one of the better pitchers on the Rays roster. The lefty doesn't have elite velocity, so scaling back his four-seamer usage and throwing his off-speed stuff more often led to a breakout in Tampa in 2021.

That first year with the Rays, he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen and posted a 3.43 ERA with a 35.2% strikeout rate. Tampa Bay shifted him to the rotation in 2022 and he delivered, pitching to a 2.46 ERA in 135.1 innings.

Prior to the 2023 season, the Rays signed Springs to a 4-year contract extension worth $31 million. He ended up missing the year after going down with a forearm strain in April and is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, he's expected to jump back into Tampa's rotation upon his return this summer.

The other three players in the trade haven't amounted to much. Mazza was last seen with a 7.49 ERA in Triple-A and hasn't appeared in a game since 2022.

Hernández left Boston in November and signed with the Diamondbacks as a minor league free agent a month later. He stalled out at Triple-A Worcester but has looked decent in his first 20 games in Arizona's system. It'll take quite a bit for him to unseat D-Backs catcher Gabriel Moreno but Hernández could make his debut later this summer if things go right.

Sogard is still in the Sox system, serving as a utility man with the WooSox He could still prove to be a useful piece for the team in the future, especially with so much uncertainty in the middle infield right now.

Even with any potential upside Sogard has left, the Sox desperately could've used Springs' arm in the bullpen during their ALCS loss to Houston in 2021. The Red Sox have been grasping at straws for pitching depth over the last five or six years and they let Springs get away for practically nothing.

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