What's not to like?
In swinging a creative three-team deal with the Tigers and White Sox last night that in its condensed essence brought righthander Jake Peavy to Boston while sending smooth-fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit, Red Sox general manager made a commitment to this season, one of unexpected success so far, without sacrificing a significant part of a very promising future.
It's one more piece of evidence that the understated Cherington should not be underestimated.
Let's start with what he brought to the Red Sox, which also happens to be just what they needed. In Peavy, the Red Sox add an above-average, accomplished pitcher who at the very least is short-term insurance for Clay Buchholz, and probably much more than that.
The 32-year-old, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2007 while with the Padres, had eight wins for the White Sox while posting a 1.138 WHIP and striking out 8.6 batters per nine innings, his best rate since 2008.
His 4.28 ERA is superficially high, with Chicago again one of the league's most hitter-friendly parks. Make no mistake, this is a high-quality pitcher the Red Sox received, and he's signed through next season. The only question is durability -- he's made just 19 starts once since 2009, when he made 32 starts last season for Chicago.
Now, about what they gave up, which is sure to be the most hotly debated point today and probably beyond. In adding Peavy and reliever Brayan Villarreal, the Red Sox traded four young players -- low-minors lottery tickets J.B. Wendelken and Francelis Montas, both pitchers, and infielder Cleuluis Rondon.
Those names are unfamiliar to all of us but the most ardent students of the Red Sox's fertile farm system. They're certainly not the names we'll be talking about today. The Red Sox traded Jose Iglesias, the shortstop with the magician's hands and a questionable bat, and his departure will leave more than a few fans disappointed.
I think I've made it clear over the last few months where I stand on Iglesias -- I don't think he will ever hit enough to be a first-division regular, and I say that knowing he served more than a few heaping helpings of crow to his detractors for much of the early summer.
I don't know that I ever suggested the Red Sox should trade Iglesias before the deadline, primarily because I didn't think they would. Given his comments last night, I'm not sure Cherington realistically expected to, either.
"We certainly didn't go into this July looking or expecting to trade Jose, but we felt given the strength of that position in the organization, with Stephen Drew obviously our every day shortstop right now, and the guys we have coming behind him in the minor leagues, it was a relative area of strength to deal from,'' he said. "And if we could get the starting pitcher we really wanted, ultimately we thought it made sense to do the deal."
It makes all the sense in the world. I applaud Cherington for selling high and acquiring Peavy without giving up Will Middlebrooks or Jackie Bradley Jr. (My heart sunk when he was pulled from Pawtucket's game last night, instigated is-he-getting-dealt? whispers.)
And yes, I'm kind of chuckling at the thought that the unfairly maligned Stephen Drew is still here while Iglesias has moved on. The Drews, they're survivors, man.
The deal might be the best thing for Iglesias. He'll help the Tigers, a hard-hitting, defensively deficient team that can afford to carry a questionable bat in the lineup. It's a little surprising that they gave up a prospect the promise of outfielder Avisail Garcia to get Iglesias, but with a suspension apparently pending for Jhonny Peralta -- funny how Biogenesis was part of the genesis of this deal -- they needed a shortstop. They know what they're getting, and I doubt they're expecting Alan Trammell. They've seen Eddie Brinkman, Ray Oyler and Adam Everett before.
I do expect to hear from a lot of Red Sox fans today frustrated and even heartbroken that they won't get to watch Iglesias's wizardry at shortstop here for the next half-dozen years or so.
Believe me, I get it. The kid's glove proved worthy of every word of hype, and the prolonged hot streak at the plate was one of those inexplicable twists that remind you that random unpredictability is one of the joys of baseball that keeps you coming back. It was fun while it lasted, though with his recently nosedive, it's still tough to gauge what exactly he will be as a hitter.
But if you liked him, wait until you set your eyes on one main reason Cherington was comfortable trading him.
Xander Bogaerts will be here soon, a superstar-in-bloom who is about to connect the Red Sox' present to the future. If the Sox had traded a prospect approaching his magnitude, then there would be reason to be disappointed. Hell, there would be reason to riot on Yawkey Way.
Instead, they sold high on the entertaining-but-flawed young player standing in his way, and got something they desperately needed. It's a win-win deal, for the immediate future and years beyond, and what's not to like about that?
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.