The Boston Red Sox acquired veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza and cash from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel, the team announced Wednesday. To make room for De Aza on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox moved pitcher Brandon Workman from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Gunkel was assigned to the Orioles' Double A Bowie affiliate.
Boston has been a bloody sock this season with problems spouting and oozing faster than band-aids can be found to fix them, and one of them has been the lack of a credible left-handed bat in the outfield, with recently injured Daniel Nava, Triple A call-up Jackie Bradley Jr. and newly minted Rangers acquisition Carlos Peguero all taking their cuts and doing little more than padding the stats of opposing pitchers. In the 31-year-old De Aza, the Sox are taking only a moderately risky flier on a legit major league bench option who can play all three outfield positions and brings a respectable eight-year career slash line of .265/.328/.401/.728 over stints with the Marlins, White Sox and Orioles.
A slow start and an Orioles roster crowded with outfielders out of options made the 31-year-old De Aza expendable. But as recently as 2013 he hit 17 home runs and drove in 62 RBI in 153 games for Chicago and last year, after the Orioles picked him up at the trade deadline for two minor league pitchers, he became an integral part of their playoff run; putting up a .293/.341/.537 /.877 slash while belting three home runs and driving in 10 over their last 20 games, and then hitting .333 in 21 post-season at-bats. When the 2015 season opened, he was their starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. But as April wore on he slumped and his playing time was reduced. The Red Sox are offering to send cash along with De Aza to defray most of the approximately $3.55 million remaining on his $5 million salary this season, the Orioles were able to entice a deal that netted them Gunkel instead of just watching him leave with all of their $5 million in his pocket and nothing in return to show for it.
In Gunkel, the Orioles are getting a 23-year-old, 6-foot-5-inch righty was Boston's 18th pick in the 2013 draft. Over his three seasons in the Boston farm system he's alternated between the starter and reliever role and carries a 3.05 ERA in 54 appearances, 20 of them starts, while striking out 178 over 165 innings. This season, over 12 appearances including five starts encompassing 40 1/3 IP between Single A Salem and Double A Portland, he's thrown to a 2.90 ERA, striking out 44, walking 12, and allowing 42 hits including three home runs for a 9.8 strikeouts per 9IP rate; 9.4 hits per 9IP rate and a 1.339 WHIP.