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Mike Hazen on D&C: Other offers Red Sox fielded were ‘prospect-related deals’

08.01.14 at 10:44 am ET
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Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about the team’s trade deadline deals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The last-place Red Sox went on a full fire sale Thursday, making four deals and trading five players before the 4 p.m. deadline. The most notable name dealt was lefty Jon Lester, who was shipped to the Athletics with Jonny Gomes for Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes. The Sox also traded John Lackey to the Cardinals, Andrew Miller to the Orioles and Stephen Drew to the Yankees by the end of the day.

The Red Sox not only got an All-Star in Cespedes, they also got major league talent in return for Lackey, acquiring outfielder Allen Craig and starter Joe Kelly from St. Louis.

“I think we had had that in the back our mind the entire time,” Hazen said. “We wanted to make sure we put as much talent on the major league roster as possible. I will say, you can’t go into those situations with that plan. You can have the plan, that’s great, but it’s not typical that you would get offered or find teams that have the ability to give players off their major league club when they’re making a playoff push.

“So that’s not something you can necessarily go in there and say, ‘We really want to do it.’ Every trade takes two to tango. We can go to a team and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got Jon Lester, we’ve got John Lackey, guys that we believe will really help you down the stretch.’ On the flip side, they can say, ‘Great, but we can’t take guys off our major league club.’ ”

Added Hazen: “In a lot of cases you end up talking to most clubs with prospect packages because they’re major league clubs in deep. I think what we ended up finding was that there were a lot of clubs that had depth on their major league roster. The Cardinals, everyone talks about the talent they have. Obviously the A’s have the best offense in baseball, so they were able to sacrifice something off of those major league clubs in order to get something in their rotation.”

The biggest name the Sox got in return was the 28-year-old Cespedes, a pull-hitting right-hander who many believe will thrive at Fenway Park. Hazen said Cespedes’ availability, which was unique in comparison to the offers for prospects the Sox were receiving, brought immediate interest to the team.

“It’s just not typical that you have that option available to you,” he said. “When you hear that name initially, immediately everyone was intrigued. The other deals that we had been talking about were prospect-related deals, so that really strikes a bold contrast to what you’re doing, then you start plugging in your major league roster because you’re constantly looking at the ’14 and ’15 roster as well.”

Hazen said the Sox had scouts at both minor and major league prospects leading up to the deadline because they were uncertain of which direction they would be heading.

“We had 20 scouts out a month to three weeks. We had to cover major league clubs, minor league clubs, and that was something a little different than what we had done in the past,” Hazen said. “Usually when you’re buying, you’re sitting in on major league clubs only. This time, we didn’t know which direction the season was going until the last month. Right up until the All-Star break we had been playing well, after the break we were playing well, then things took a turn for the worst, so we had to be spread out through probably 10 contending clubs’ minor league systems and major league teams, and our scouts did a tremendous job making sure they were everywhere.”

The Sox certainly bought low by acquiring Craig. The veteran is in the midst of his worst major league seasons after three straight All-Star-caliber seasons from 2011-13. He’s hitting .237/.291/.346 through 97 games and is on pace for a career-high in strikeouts.

“We still had scouts going in there every day telling us that this guy has the ability to impact the baseball in the offensive side,” Hazen said of Craig. “He’s been banged up with injuries over the last couple of years, who knows what role that plays in, but at times when you have a player, an All-Star-caliber player like Allen Craig, when they have those down seasons, there’s times when you have to take a risk.

“Those are the times and the opportunities that we had to take a risk on a guy who has that level of talent and can come into the middle of our lineup.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Red Sox, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On the decision to trade Lackey: When you get presented an opportunity like we had yesterday, those are things you have to consider. We weren’t sitting today, in 2014, one player away, one pitcher away, from being a championship-caliber club next year. When you look at that, you’re able to bring back two guys that you feel like can impact your roster, help both in the rotation and on the field. We know what’s happened to us offensively this year, we knew we had to go out and acquire bats. We had to take that opportunity.

“I don’t know that we necessarily went into that situation looking to do that deal. I think as we continued to talk, and we say this all the time: Look, it’s our responsibility to listen on every player on the roster. So when you get presented ideas or thoughts, or you kick around ideas and thoughts, and you end up with what we felt like we could get for him, you have to open your mind to the possibility that that’s going to happen in order to do the best job you can to build that 2015 roster.”

On the team’s focus during the last two months of the season coming up: “I think one, the acclimation of the new guys coming onto the team, see what we have how they fit into the roster and into the lineup every day. I think the starting pitchers, definitely. We need to see what these guys can do and start to see which guys are going to be the mainstays in 2015 and beyond, and maybe even some guys in the bullpen. 

“And yes, the young guys like [Jackie Bradley] and [Xander Bogaerts] are starting to emerge and started to be more consistent in their everyday play, along with other guys that are going to come up here and see what they are able to do. I think the next 54 days for the fans are going to be extremely interesting. I think the level of talent has been raised on the offensive side and then I feel like we’ve always had that talent on the pitching side. It’s time for guys to step up and show us what they can do.”

Read More: Allen Craig, Joe Kelly, john lackey, Jon Lester
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