According to the Royals’ official twitter feed, the Red Sox have acquired infielder Mike Aviles from the Royals in exchange for thirdbase prospect–and Juan Uribe-clone–Yamaico Navarro and 6’5″ Carolina League reliever Kendal Volz. Though Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is still busy pursuing Ubaldo Jimenez and Erik Bedard with hopes of adding depth to their injury-ravage rotation, Aviles could prove to be an important upgrade for the club sporting the American League’s best record.
Boston’s left-heavy lineup was in dire need of an effective righthanded bat. Aviles has maintained a .944 OPS against southpaws so far this season and a .811 mark for his career. Looking ahead to the postseason, Aviles’ career 11.4% strikeout rate against left-handed pitchers could also be a valuable skill in a late-inning pinch-hitting role; Particularly when the Redsox are forced to stack Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Gonzalez close together at the top of their lineup.
Heading into the final leg of the season, relying on Jed Lowrie’s ailing shoulder would’ve been too much of a gamble and Marco Scutaro’s lackluster 1.3 WAR calls for at least a small offensive boost. Though Aviles has struggled for much of this season, batting just .222/.261/.395, his OPS is over 100 points higher outside of Kauffman Stadium– the fourth cruelest ballpark to hitters’ run production in the American League. After a mid-summer demotion, Aviles returned to the MLB with a much more effective bat and he’s hitting .313 since his late-July return.
Yamaico Navarro, the trade’s headlining prospect, is a power-hitting infielder whose drawn comparisons to two-time World Champion Juan Uribe for his squat build and all-or-nothing approach. A two-time minor league All-Star, Navarro has improved his stock with an inspiring International League showing with the PawSox. Through 50 games at AAA, the twenty-three-year-old Navarro has posted a .831 OPS, a .221 ISO and his strong arm affords him above-average defense up the middle and at third base. After a short stint with the big club late last season, Navarro was called-up this summer when Boston released Mike Cameron. He’s continued man multiple infield positions and has even played some left field. For the Royals, he should fill the void left by recently traded Wilson Betemit.
Drafted by the Red Sox in the 7th round of the ’09 Draft, former Baylor ace Kendal Volz was seen as one of the potential steals of his draft class. Though a violent delivery and inconsistency have forced him out of the rotation and into the bullpen, Volz’s stock has been rising of late. After serving as Team USA’s (Collegiate) closer in ’08, Volz has been impressive in his return to the bullpen, posting a 3,33 ERA and 56 strikeouts through 51 innings pitched. His fastball has jumped from 87-91 mph as a starter to 90-94 mph out of the ‘pen and his slider has shown nasty bite. He’s holding right-handed batters to a .197 batting average and has maintained a nasty 37-to-6 K/BB ratio against them.