Red Sox get shortstop Alex Gonzalez from Reds

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General manager Theo Epstein and the Red Sox stayed busy this afternoon, sending Single-A infielder Kristopher Negron to the Reds to reacquire Alex Gonzalez three seasons after he was Boston’s starting shortstop. Gonzalez hit just .255/.299/.397 in 111 games with the Red Sox in 2006 and has been even worse this year, batting .210/.258/.296 in 68 games after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
Gonzalez has long been one of baseball’s worst hitters, as his .686 career OPS ranks seventh-lowest among all active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. For quite a while his strong glove was enough to make him a decent enough all-around player despite the horrible bat, but now that aging and injuries have turned Gonzalez into a mediocre defender his usefulness is pretty iffy.
Boston has been starting Nick Green at shortstop since dumping Julio Lugo on the Cardinals only to watch Jed Lowrie land back on the disabled list with more wrist problems, so obviously the threshold for upgrading the position isn’t high. Gonzalez is probably better than Chris Woodward, who the Red Sox have used as a utility man since claiming him off waivers last week, but he’s unlikely to really be any better than Green.
Of course, the hope is that Lowrie will be able to come off the shelf soon and can stay healthy down the stretch, in which case Gonzalez will be nothing more than a utility man and the Red Sox will have simply dropped about a million bucks and a low-level prospect for the marginal difference between two sub par shortstops. Gonzalez also has a $6 million team option for 2010, but don’t expect Boston to pick it up.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.