Full Count
A Furiously Updated Red Sox Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

UPDATED: Red Sox acquire Adam LaRoche for two prospects

07.22.09 at 1:00 pm ET
By

WEEI.com has confirmed that the Red Sox and Pirates are close to finalizing a deal that would send first baseman Adam LaRoche of the Pittsburgh Pirates to Boston in exchange for two minor leaguers. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was the first to report the news.

LaRoche is a power-hitting first baseman who has averaged 24.5 homers over the past four seasons with the Braves and Pirates. He is hitting .247 with a .329 OBP and .441 slugging mark for the Pirates this year, down from career totals of .269/.338/.486.

According to multiple baseball sources, the Pirates will receive shortstop Argenis Diaz and pitcher Hunter Strickland when the deal is finalized. Diaz is known as a gifted defensive player with incredible tools, but there are questions about his bat, and his defensive focus has at times come into question, resulting in high error totals (he has committed 18 errors this year).

The 22-year-old Diaz is hitting .253/.309/.310 with Double-A Portland this year. He has not hit any homers this year. After he got off to a terrific start in April (hitting .289 with a .769 OPS), he hit .246 with month-by-month OPS totals of .587 in May, .609 in June and .567 in July. His ceiling is considered that of a major-league backup infielder, but for him to achieve that status, he would have to show greater consistency in the field. Diaz was added to the 40-man roster following the 2007 season. Pirates G.M. Neal Huntington had this to say about Diaz in the Pirates’ official press release announcing the deal:

“Diaz is an intriguing shortstop prospect who projects to play above-average defense with soft hands, good first step quickness and an above average throwing arm,” said Huntington. “He is developing on the offensive side of the baseball, but Argenis quickly becomes the best defensive shortstop prospect in our system.”

Strickland, an 18th round pick in 2007, is 5-4 with a 3.35 ERA for the Greenville Drive of the Single-A South Atlantic League this year. The 6-foot-5 20-year-old has shown excellent command for the Drive, with a 51-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 83.1 innings this year.

He shows advanced command for his age of a fastball that is in the vicinity of 90 mph, and his frame suggests the possibility of a future uptick in velocity as he fills out. He also has a decent changeup, but he has yet to show a consistent breaking ball that he can use as a complementary pitch. His development of that pitch will, in all likelihood, determine the quality of the Pirates’ return in this deal (aside from the salary relief they will achieve by moving LaRoche). This is what Huntington had to say in the Pirates’ press release:

“Strickland is a young developing right-handed starting pitching prospect with a good frame, solid delivery, clean arm action and an interesting pitch arsenal,” said Huntington. “He is a quality strike thrower with a fastball that has averaged as high as 93 miles per hour, with the potential for a major league caliber breaking ball and changeup to complement his fastball.”

LaRoche is eligible for free agency following this season. He is playing on a one-year, $7.05 million deal in 2009, his last as an arbitration-eligible player. His brother, Andy, was part of the three-team deal that sent Jason Bay to Boston and Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles last July 31.

The first baseman has struggled of late, hitting .138/.167/.241 in July. Throughout his career, however, he has been a significantly better hitter following the All-Star break, with a career second-half line of .296/.357/.544 and a .901 OPS, compared to first-half marks of .252/.326/.447/.773.

Because Diaz was on Boston’s 40-man roster, LaRoche will be able to take his spot. It remains to be seen, however, how the Sox will clear a spot on their 25-man major-league roster for LaRoche.

Hunter Strickland went 5-4 with one save and a 3.35 ERA (83.1ip/31er) in 18 appearances (12 starts) this year for the Single-A Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League. The 20-year-old Strickland entered the season with a career record of 5-5 and 3.94 ERA (96.0ip/42er) in 24 games (16 starts) since being selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Last year with Single-A Lowell of the New York-Penn League, Strickland posted a 3.18 ERA (70.2ip/25er) in 15 games (10 starts), which ranked fifth among all Red Sox minor leaguers. Strickland finished the season by posting a 0.43 ERA (20.2ip/1er) in his last four starts.

“Strickland is a young developing right-handed starting pitching prospect with a good frame, solid delivery, clean arm action and an interesting pitch arsenal,” said Huntington. “He is a quality strike thrower with a fastball that has averaged as high as 93 miles per hour, with the potential for a major league caliber breaking ball and changeup to complement his fastball.”

Though there had been reports that the Pirates would send money to the Red Sox to cover part of the remaining $2.95 million of LaRoche’s salary this year, Kovacevic reports that no money will move from Pittsburgh to Boston.

Read More: Adam LaRoche, Argenis Diaz, hunter strickland, Pirates
Red Sox Box Score
Red Sox Schedule
Ace Ticket
Baseball Analytics Blog
Red Sox Headlines
Red Sox Minor League News
Red Sox Team Leaders
MLB Headlines
Tips & Feedback

Verify