It's not exactly the earth-shattering deal some Red Sox fans are hoping for, but the acquisition of former Marlins outfielder Jeremy Hermida on Thursday is a deal that should help looking ahead to 2010.
Hermida, 25, hit .259 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs in 129 games for Florida in 2009. The Marlins' first-round pick in 2002 had his best pro season in 2007, when we hit .296 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs.
Because he can play either right field or left, the presumption is that Hermida will be the team's fourth outfielder. The general feeling is that bringing in the left-handed-hitting Atlanta native could mean the end of Rocco Baldelli's time as a member of the Red Sox.
Boston general manager Theo Epstein picked up Hermida for minor league pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.
"This was not a blockbuster," Epstein said Thursday in a conference call (via Boston.com). "This was a value trade, a chance to get a guy with unfulfilled potential at a reasonable cost."
Hermida missed much of September with an oblique injury, but The Boston Globe reports that he spoke with Epstein and manager Terry Francona on Thursday and told them that he can't wait to start swinging a bat again to prepare for spring training.
"The change of scenery will be good for me," Hermida told reporters. "Boston has a lot of older guys who can teach me about the game and we can talk hitting. I know Mike Lowell pretty well and I played with Josh [Beckett] a little. This is a great thing for me.
"I feel rejuvenated," he continued. "I had a feeling I'd be traded and going to Boston is better than I could have expected."
Epstein stressed that the trade was not intended to in any way change the direction of the team, but that it was a simple matter of economics and taking advantage of the buy-low principle.
"Hermida is a player who hasn't fulfilled his potential yet," he said Thursday. "We acquired him today for a reasonable cost to see if he might be able to fulfill that potential with us. He's somebody who has positive indicators that future performance might be better than his past performance. His minor league track record, his age, his draft pedigree, our scouting reports over the year indicate there's a chance that he can turn into the player he was once thought to be.
"He's about to move into his prime years," Epstein continued. "Sometimes talented young players who struggle at the big-league level put it all together and sometimes they don't. We had a chance to acquire one for what we deemed to be a very reasonable cost."
It's an understatement to say that Hermida will not fully replace Jason Bay as the everyday left fielder if the free agent slugger signs with another team. But he could wind up being a valuable piece of the puzzle.
Peter Abraham of the Globe drew a comparison to the Yankees' acquisition last fall Nick Swisher, "when his value was lowest." And after 29 homers and 82 RBIs for the World Series champs, it's fair to say that that deal worked out OK.
Hopefully, this one will work out similarly for the Red Sox.
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