The Red Sox have not had a losing record since 1997 and have been in playoff contention every season for over a decade. Boston general manager Theo Epstein has never been afraid to pull the trigger on trade deadline deals in order to try to improve the roster. Some trades have been hits while others have been misses in the search for the player that can make the greatest impact down the stretch.
Prior to Epstein’s tenure in Boston, general manager Dan Duquette orchestrated a trade in 2001 that sent Tomo Ohka and Rich Rundles to the Montreal Expos for closer Ugueth Urbina. In 80 games spanning two seasons for the Sox, “Double U” collected 49 saves and struck out 103 batters out of the bullpen. Urbina later won a World Series title with the Marlins in 2003.
The trade members of Red Sox Nation will never forget is the deadline deal in 2004 that sent fan favorite and franchise cornerstone Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs in a three-way trade that brought Orlando Cabrera to Boston to play shortstop. In 58 games for the Red Sox, Cabrera hit .294 with six home runs and 31 runs batted in. Cabrera made good use of the Green Monster, collecting 19 doubles in a Sox uniform. The trade proved to be a major success as Cabrera helped lead the Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years.
Also during the ’04 trade deadline, the Sox acquired outfielder Dave Roberts from the Dodgers in return for Henri Stanley. Roberts hit .256 with two long balls and 14 RBI, but made his biggest impact in the postseason. In Game 4 of the ALCS Roberts came on as a pinch runner for Kevin Millar and converted arguably the most significant steal in franchise history off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Roberts eventually scored the tying run, the Sox won in extra innings, and the rest is history.
After nearly eight seasons in Boston, Manny Ramirez had worn out the patience of the Red Sox front office and the club’s fans in 2008. Literally minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline, Epstein sent Ramirez packing to Los Angeles in a three-team trade that brought Jason Bay in to play in left field. Finally playing in a competitive market, Bay played in 200 games for the Sox and hit .274 with 45 homers and 156 RBIs until he signed with the Mets as a free agent prior to the 2010 season.
In 2009 Epstein looked to upgrade the catcher spot by acquiring Victor Martinez for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price. While Martinez never won a championship in Boston he proved to be a significant upgrade for the Sox behind the plate, hitting .313 with 120 RBIs in 183 games for Boston through the end of 2010 before signing with the Tigers in the offseason.
Last season Epstein had an eye toward the future when he acquired catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Texas in exchange for three prospects. Salty played occassionally behind Martinez last season but has since taken over everyday catching duties this season and performed quite well. This season he is hitting .261 and has shown some unexpected pop in his bat with nine long balls and 34 RBI. At age 26, Salty should be a dependable catcher for the future in Boston.