The Red Sox pulled the trigger on a deal today to acquire Indians C/1B/DH Victor Martinez. Given injuries to Mike Lowell and ineffectiveness from Jason Varitek and David Ortiz, inserting Victor Martinez adds both an all-star and flexibility to an already formidable roster.
Victor Martinez is as advertised. With a .367 wOBA at catcher, Martinez is an elite player. He won't be able to catch everyday, but he can shift to 1B (with Youkilis moving over to third) and provide average defense there as well, and he can also fill in at DH. With versatility combined with talent, the Red Sox certainly have a valuable asset in Martinez. ZiPS has Martinez at a .360 wOBA going forward, worth a little more than 5 runs above average. Depending on who comes out of the lineup (the ineffective Ortiz, worth -7 bRAA so far), the injured Lowell (roughly average so far, but unreliable), or the aging Varitek (.349 wOBA so far but only projected for .322 going forward), Martinez could add anywhere from .5-1.5 wins down the stretch. Martinez will also be around next year, at a relatively cheap 7 million dollars, so this move should also help the Red Sox next year and possibly further if they sign Martinez to another contract, and they managed to avoid dealing either Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, or Michael Bowden.
The return for the Cleveland Indians comes in the form of three young pitchers: Nick Hagadone, Justin Masterson, and Bryan Price. Here's what Sickels has to say about Hagadone and Price, the two minor leaguers involved.
8) Nick Hagadone, LHP, Grade B-: Can’t rank higher than B- until we see how he comes back from Tommy John. Excellent stuff when healthy.
12) Bryan Price, RHP, Grade B-: High upside arm, though he might advance more slowly if used as a starter than as a reliever.
Justin Masterson, a 24 year old righthander, is currently in his second season (first full) in the Major Leagues. After an ok 2008 that doesn't look nearly as good to the advanced metrics, (6.78 tRA, 4.69 FIP), Masterson has picked it up in 2009. Despite a 1-run lower ERA, Masterson is clearly pitching better. His tRA is down nearly 3 full runs to 3.92, and his FIP is down to 3.75. Almost everything we look for in an improving pitcher is there: higher strikeouts, lower walks, lower HRs, fewer balls. His swinging strikes have fallen from 9.8% to 8.4%, but still, his other improvements outweight the one low point for this year. Masterson likely will jump into the Cleveland rotation.
This looks like a win-win deal for both squads, as Cleveland picks up some useful pieces for the next 6-8 years, and Boston adds a piece that could potentially put space between them and Tampa/Texas for the Wild Card and even possibly overtake the Yankees for the division.