The Red Sox have made a significant addition to their bullpen, acquiring righthanded reliever Mark Melancon from the Astros for infielder Jed Lowrie and reliever Kyle Weiland. The team confirmed the move in a press release this afternoon.
Melancon, a hard-throwing 26-year-old had a 2.78 earned run average and 20 saves in 74.1 innings for Houston last season. He struck out 66 and walked 26.
His numbers suggest he could serve as the departed Jonathan Papelbon’s successor as the Red Sox closer in ’12, though he may also be the first of many pieces added to the bullpen, especially if Daniel Bard ends up in the rotation. Oakland closer Andrew Bailey is one among a handful of potential relievers the Red Sox could still pursue.
Lowrie, a versatile but injury-plagued infielder, hit .252 with six home runs and a .687 OPS in 341 at-bats last season. In parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, the 27-year-old batted .252 with a .732 OPS in 256 games.
Weiland made his major league debut with the Red Sox last season, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in seven appearances (five starts). Three of those starts came in September, when the attrition on the Red Sox’ pitching staff forced them to use him in a role he probably wasn’t quite ready for. The 24-year-old sinkerballer projects as a relief pitcher in the majors.
Melancon (pronounced Muh-lansen) began his career in the Yankees organization after being drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 draft. He pitched 15 games for New York in 2009-10 (4.87 ERA) before being traded to the Astros at the July 31 trade deadline in ’10 along with Jimmy Paredes in exchange for Lance Berkman.
Melancon made the most of his opportunity with the Astros, going 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 91 appearances over the past two seasons.
The news that the Red Sox had acquired Melanson was first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick noted earlier that the Red Sox had made a trade with the Astros, but did not mention the players involved other than Weiland.