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American League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
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Acquired OF-R Shane Victorino and cash considerations from the Red Sox in exchange for INF-R Josh Rutledge. [7/27]

The Angels have Mike Trout in center field and Kole Calhoun in right field. In left, things aren't as clear. Matt Joyce—currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list—has made 58 starts, but he's posted a cringeworthy .224 TAv in 278 plate appearances after being a capable hitter throughout his eight-year career. Maybe he'll bounce back, but the Angels are getting impatient. They've used six other players in left, from Collin Cowgill to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but none of them have stuck.

Victorino, then, provides immediate depth to an outfield that could use it, and when healthy he's a clear upgrade over the current left field stable. It's not so much the bat where Victorino will make the difference; his rest-of-season offensive projections are actually slightly worse than Joyce's. It's defensively, where Joyce is average-ish and Victorino, even on 34-year-old legs, remains plus in a corner. Of course, "when healthy" isn't something you glibly throw around with Victorino. There's a good chance he'll hit the disabled list again in Anaheim, making it tough for the Angels to count on him down the stretch.

In that sense, maybe this move isn't the answer for the Angels, a team expected to fight for a division crown with the upstart Astros. However, they surrendered so little for Victorino's services that it's hard not to appreciate where they're coming from. The Angels will pay only around $1 million of Victorino's remaining salary and Rutledge, the player they traded to Boston, was acquired in the offseason for Jairo Diaz, a six-foot 24-year-old right-hander with a minor-league ERA north of five. There's still money and prospects to play with (although the farm isn't an organizational strength) if the Angels plan to further bolster the outfield or patch up other holes. There's also a universe out there in the multiverse where Victorino stays healthy for three months and hits like he did in 2013, and when the price is only $1 million and Rutledge, the Angels are wise to gamble that we're living in that universe.

BOSTON RED SOX
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Acquired INF-R Josh Rutledge from the Angels in exchange for OF-R Shane Victorino and cash considerations. [7/27]

An important part of the World Series–winning 2013 squad, Victorino had been rendered ineffective by injuries and made expendable in the last year of his three-year, $39 million deal with Boston. He's played just 63 games since the start of 2014, hitting .258/.312/.346 between all-too-frequent stops on the disabled list. His star had fallen so much that the Red Sox sent $3.8 million along with him to the Angels to get back Josh Rutledge, a 26-year-old infielder without a true position who has been dealt twice in the last eight months.

Ben Cherington and the Red Sox claim they've liked Rutledge since he was with the Rockies, and that's understandable. What's less clear is what they see in him now. A third round pick in 2010 out of Alabama, Rutledge hit at every stop in the minors despite an approach that left something to be desired. The major-league tour didn't go as well, however, as Rutledge posted a .241 TAv in parts of three seasons in Colorado from 2012 through 2014. Worse yet, the defensive metrics rate his glove work well below average at short and not much better at second. With Dustin Pedroia on the DL, Rutledge will apparently get a shot on the big-league roster even though he feels more like organizational filler than someone who will stick around.

Perhaps more important than getting Rutledge back for Victorino, the move opens up space in the outfield for the Red Sox to hold auditions for 2016. Rusney Castillo, recalled from Triple-A yesterday and installed in last night's lineup as the right fielder, will get the first shot. There's also defense-first center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who has struggled against major-league pitching but is currently slashing .304/.371/.477 in Pawtucket and figures to get another look eventually. Like last year, the Red Sox will be able to use the second half to get an up-close look at some of their younger, less-established players. It's not exactly how they foresaw the offseason plan unfolding, but it beats trying to cling to the fringes of contention with veterans no longer part of the long-term plan.

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sbnirish77
7/28
Did anyone see Victorino's goodbye speech in Boston? There IS crying in baseball.
jimlafrance
7/29
Sort of a non-move given all of our outfield options and how infrequently the Flying Hawaiian was available. We will always have 2013 and "Everything going to be all right". That's how all Red Sox fans will remember Victorino - not bad.