The Red Sox have acquired lefthanded-hitting first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a pair of prospects.
The trade was first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic and confirmed by the Globe’s Amalie Benjamin. The Sox will send Portland shortstop Argenis Diaz and Greenville righthander Hunter Strickland to the Pirates in return for LaRoche. (In a trade later in the day, the Sox sent shortstop Julio Lugo to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Chris Duncan).
“[We’ve] been in the market for a player who can do some damage against righthanded pitching and can help our team’s depth in the corner infield,” said Theo Epstein. The Sox general manager said the teams bad been in discussions about LaRoche for months.
Diaz, a smooth-fielding shortstop, was batting .253 for the Double A Sea Dogs. Strickland, 20, was an 18th-round pick in the 2007 draft.
“[It was] a very reasonable acquisition cost,” said Epstein.
LaRoche, a 29-year-old six-year veteran, is an intriguing pickup for the Red Sox, who have struggled against righthanded pitching this season.
“I’m excited to go to a great organization in a great baseball city and jump into a pennant race,” LaRoche said after the trade. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity. It’s just a little tough for me right now because my little brother is here in Pittsburgh and it’s been a dream come true playing with him. It’s tough to leave him behind and a lot of other guys who have become really close friends. So, it’s mixed emotions, a lot of sadness and a lot of excitement all at the same time. On the whole, though, I know it’s a good move for me.”
LaRoche is batting .247 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs this season, but he has never had a full-season adjusted OPS below 100, and he’s one of the most notorious second-half hitters in baseball. His career OPS after the All-Star break is .901.
“His personality, he never has a huge sense of urgency in anything,” Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay, who played with LaRoche in Pittsburgh, said of the Sox’ new acquisition. “That’s the kind of a guy he is. He’s been a good first baseman. It’s been noted he gets off to some slow starts, so we’re kind of picking him up on the upswing. He’s got some pop in his bat. He plays a smooth first base.”
It has yet to be determined where LaRoche fits in on Boston’s 25-man roster. LaRoche is not with the team, and the Red Sox will not make a corresponding roster move until Friday.
Epstein also said today that the Sox want to make more moves before the July 31 deadline.
“I think we plan to be very active in discussions in talking to just about every club out there and persuing every player that can make us better now and in the future,” Epstein said. “Certainly, there are no guarantees. Certainly, we hope to make another move between now and the deadline.”
Among current members of the Red Sox, only Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis (each with 42) have more extra-base hits than LaRoche’s 38 this season. He is also regarded as an above-average defender, with one error in 836 total chances at first base. He ranks second among NL first basemen with a .999 fielding percentage.
LaRoche has hit more than 20 homers in four of his five full seasons, with his career-high of 32 coming in 2006 while he was with the Atlanta Braves. He has reached double digits in home runs in each of his six seasons, including a career-high 32 for Atlanta in 2006. Overall, LaRoche owns a .269 career batting average with 123 homers and 426 RBI in 775 games with the Braves (2004-06) and Pirates (2007-09).
He makes slightly more than $7 million this season, the final year of his contract.
Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report.