John McDonald Adds Depth to Red Sox’ Infield While Also Bringing Experience, Familiarity


John McDonaldBOSTON — A local guy is joining the Red Sox.

The Red Sox on Saturday acquired 38-year-old infielder John McDonald and cash considerations from the Phillies in exchange for minor league pitcher Nefi Ogando. McDonald, a native of New London, Conn., and current resident of Scituate, Mass., is a depth addition that also comes with experience and familiarity.

McDonald has played all over the infield throughout his 15-year major league career, although most his action has come at shortstop. McDonald has played 574 games (429 starts) at short, 210 games (142 starts) at second base and 143 games (66 starts) at third base.

“He’s a premium defender at all three positions, and he’ll serve as depth, particularly in the middle of the infield,” manager John Farrell said. “He can obviously also play third base, but we felt like even though we put Will [Middlebrooks] at second base a couple of times, if something were to happen unforeseen, we’ve got someone who’s not only tested but very seasoned at second base as well.”

When McDonald suits up for the Red Sox, it’ll be his fourth team of 2013. Prior to his 21-game stint with the Phillies, McDonald also played for the Indians and Pirates this season. Overall, the Red Sox will be McDonald’s seventh major league team, although he spent the bulk of his career with the Indians (1999-2004, 2013) and Blue Jays (2005-2011).

McDonald won’t add much in the way of offense. He’s a career .235 hitter with a .274 on-base percentage, and he features little power, having only hit 28 home runs in 2,350 career at-bats. Both Farrell and third base coach Brian Butterfield have a history with McDonald, though, so they know exactly what he’s capable of providing.

“We’ve been looking out for this type of player,” Farrell said. “We know him, obviously. Butter’s got a lot of history with him as well. But he will fit in very well with this team right now.”

The Red Sox transferred reliever Alex Wilson to the 60-day disabled list to make room for McDonald on the 40-man roster, and McDonald can immediately join the Red Sox, as Sunday marks the first day of September call-ups. It’s also worth noting that Wilson’s DL stint is retroactive to July 9, so it’s not as if his season is being completely written off.

McDonald, who is hitting just .098 (6-for-61) in 45 games this season, comes at a minimal price, as the 24-year-old Ogando posted a 4.09 ERA in 33 relief appearances with High-A Salem this season. So while it’s difficult to imagine the move making much of an impact, it’s also hard to find fault with the transaction.

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