Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora broke into a smile before Tuesday’s game against the Houston Astros: Baseball’s trade deadline had just passed, and he still had Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez on his roster.
A day after shipping out catcher Christian Vazquez in a deal that had some players concerned the team was giving up on the season, the Red Sox swooped in to grab Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer after he vetoed a move to the Nationals as part of the blockbuster Juan Soto trade.
But Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom held off on trading either of his two young All-Stars or Martinez, who would have been an attractive rental for a team making a run at the playoffs.
”It’s like New Year’s Eve: 3-2-1 fireworks,” Cora told reporters in the visitor’s dugout at Minute Maid Field in Houston. ”For how down we were yesterday, there’s a lot of excitement in the clubhouse to keep these guys to make a push.”
The Red Sox obtained Hosmer along with two minor leaguers and enough cash to pay almost all of the 2016 All-Star’s salary in exchange for minor league left-hander Jay Groome. The net major league effect of a slew of deadline deals left Boston with Hosmer and outfielder Tommy Pham for Vazquez and reliever Jake Diekman.
”I think we have at least as good a chance of getting to the postseason as we did, and I hope a better one,” Bloom said. ”When we have a shot, even when it’s not the shot we anticipated in April, we should take it.”
The addition of Hosmer, a four-time Gold Glove winner who is batting .272 with eight homers and 40 RBIs, helps fill one of the team’s biggest holes so far this season.
Red Sox first basemen – primarily Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero – have batted .224 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs. The team also has 10 errors at first base – tied for most in the majors – with Cordero committing three in one game last week.
In all, the Red Sox rank in the bottom five in production at the position in batting average, home runs, RBIs and OPS.
”We have struggled to find stability at first base this year,” Bloom said. ”We think Eric will provide that.”
The 32-year-old Hosmer helped the Royals win the 2015 World Series, scoring the tying run in the ninth inning of the clinching Game 5 win over the New York Mets. After hitting 25 homers in back-to-back seasons in Kansas City, he averaged 17 over three full seasons in San Diego; he batted .265 with the Padres, including this year and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, down from a .284 average with Kansas City.
As part of the swap, San Diego will send as much as $43.56 million to Boston, offsetting most of the roughly $46 million remaining on Hosmer’s $144 million, eight-year contract, which runs through the 2025 season. He has the right to opt out of the contract after this season.
The Red Sox also received a pair of 22-year-olds: Max Ferguson and Corey Rosier, who have been playing this season in Class A.
Groome, 23, is 4-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 19 appearances, making 17 starts in Double-A and Triple-A this season. He is 12-22 with a 4.46 ERA in his career since being selected 12th overall in the 2016 draft.
Ferguson is a left-handed hitter who is batting .221 in Class A this season with six homers, 50 RBIs and 55 stolen bases in 60 attempts. He has played shortstop and second base and some outfield.
Rosier is an outfielder who is hitting .263 with six home runs and 33 stolen bases in Class A.
It was an active couple of days for Boston, which has stumbled badly a year after a surprise trip to the AL Championship Series.
Eleven games over .500 and in position for a playoff berth, the Red Sox won just six of their next 23 games. They entered Tuesday night’s game against the Astros in sixth place in the AL wild-card standings, three games behind Tampa Bay and Seattle in the race for the league’s sixth and final spot in the postseason.
”We have a good baseball team. Obviously we have work to do,” Cora said. ”We are three games behind in the wild-card race, and we’ve got a shot.”
Bloom said last week that he still thought the team could contend for the postseason and declined to declare the Red Sox sellers at the trade deadline. But he sent Vazquez to the Astros on Monday night for a pair of minor leaguers, and traded left-handed reliever Jake Diekman to the White Sox for catcher Reese McGuire.
The Red Sox also obtained Pham in a trade with Cincinnati for a player to be named or cash.
Vazquez had spent his entire eight-year career with the Red Sox and was a member of the team that won 108 regular-season games and the World Series in 2018.
”It was a big move. He was a big piece of the team,” Bogaerts said on Tuesday. ”We got a couple of good players back. We’ll see how it goes.”
Hosmer had a provision allowing him to block trades to 10 teams, including the Nationals. He is owed just over $7 million from this year and $13 million in each of the following three seasons.
San Diego will send Boston about $6.8 million and, if Hosmer does not opt out, almost $37 million.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and AP Sports Writers Bernie Wilson and Kristie Rieken contributed to this report.
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