Montreal Expos Trade Cy-Young-Award-Winner Pedro Martinez to Boston Red SoxBy HOWARD ULMAN
BOSTON (AP) _ On a day when the Boston Red Sox lost two of their best young pitchers, general manager Dan Duquette was ecstatic becayse he obtained perhaps the best pitcher in baseball.
He outbid other clubs for Pedro Martinez, the NL’s Cy Young Award winner, and worked out a trade with Montreal to bring Boston the ace it lost when Roger Clemens signed with Toronto last December.
``This is the kind of trade when you go to bed at night as a general manager you dream about making,″ Duquette said.
The deal cost him 21-year-old Carl Pavano, a top prospect who was expected to contend for a spot in the rotation, and a player to be named. The trade was announced after the expansion draft in which the Red Sox lost 22-year-old Jeff Suppan, who was 7-3 last season, to Arizona.
``You can utilize your farm system to bring your best players to the major leagues or in a trade,″ Duquette said of parting with Pavano, who was 11-6 with a 3.12 ERA at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Although not protecting Suppan was a surprise, Duquette said the Red Sox had a glut of other young right-handed pitchers, including Brian Rose, John Wasdin, Robinson Checo and Derek Lowe.
``We came through the expansion draft really well. We pretty much have our team intact,″ Duquette said. ``We anguished over Jeff Suppan ... but we felt we had some other young pitchers we could protect.″
The Red Sox also lost Jim Mecir, a pitcher obtained Sept. 29 to complete a trade with the New York Yankees.
Whether Martinez stays with Boston beyond next season is uncertain. He can become a free agent after the season. He told the Expos he wouldn’t sign a multiyear contract with Boston, a source told The Associated Press on the condition he not be identified.
Duquette declined to discuss that in a conference call late Tuesday night.
Martinez, 26, was 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA and 305 strikeouts last season, his fourth with Montreal, which is trading top players to cut its payroll.
Expos general manager Jim Beattie thought Martinez would make a smooth transition to the American League.
``I don’t think Pedro will have any trouble adapting to any league,″ Beattie said. ``It’s going to be the American League hitters that are going to have trouble adapting to him.″
``Martinez gives us an excellent ace pitcher,″ Duquette said. ``He can throw a lot of innings, quality innings. ... He has a dynamic personality and we’re sending a message to our fans that we’re back in business.″
Boston first baseman Mo Vaughn, who last season questioned the club’s commitment to building a contender and keeping him, should get that message, too.
But there’s no guarantee that Martinez will deliver the Red Sox first world championship since 1918. Despite his brilliant season, the Expos were 78-84 and finished fourth in the NL East last season. Boston had the same record and came in fourth in the AL East.
With a staff ace and the conversion of Tom Gordon into a closer, Duquette feels he eliminated two weaknesses.
``That will make our other pitchers that much better in between those two key pitchers,″ he said.
Martinez leads a rotation that likely will include Butch Henry and Tim Wakefield. Rose, 17-5 with a 3.02 ERA at Pawtucket last season, also could win a spot along with veterans Steve Avery and Bret Saberhagen.
Jim Corsi, who became a free agent after being Boston’s top reliever last season, and Dennis Eckersley, who pitched for St. Louis, also could be with the Red Sox next season. Duquette said he’s talked with both.
Neither expansion team picked Boston third baseman Tim Naehring, making it easier for Duquette to trade John Valentin, who handled the position most of last season after Naehring hurt his elbow.
``We’re happy to have Valentin on our ballclub,″ Duquette said. ``I’ve said all along I’m not convinced that Naehring is going to be ready for spring training.″
He also wants a right-handed hitting outfielder after obtaining center fielder Damon Buford, an outstanding fielder but weak hitter, from Texas on Nov. 6. The deal cost Boston its winningest pitcher last season, Aaron Sele.