Hermida acquisition gives Red Sox flexibility

November, 5, 2009

The Red Sox have always liked Jeremy Hermida, and they are not alone. When Jeff Francoeur blew into Atlanta, one American League general manager predicted his career would never match that of Hermida.

Now Hermida is 25, with four years in the big leagues and $2.25 million to build off in arbitration, and the Red Sox acquired him for minor league pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez. "We still think there's a good hitter in there," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said.

In 2007, at 23, Hermida seemed to be on his way to becoming a productive major league outfielder, producing a .296 average, 18 homers, a .369 on base percentage, .501 slugging percentage and .870 OPS. But the past two years his star fell. He hit.249 with 17 homers in 2008, and .259 with 13 homers last season, with a combined OPS of .735.

When Epstein talked to Hermida, he could not define his role. Boston wants to re-sign Jason Bay, who thus far has brushed off a four-year, $60 million offer. If the Red Sox don't sign Bay, they'd like to sign Matt Holliday, and they have a mutually respectful relationship with Scott Boras and a family connection between Holliday and John Farrell.

But if they fall short on Bay and Holliday, they could get a right-handed bat and platoon him with Hermida, whose natural stroke has been to left-center. Or they could sign Bay or Holliday and use Hermida as a role player in left, right and DH.

"Someday, somewhere, Hermida is going to figure it out," says one NL GM. "He's expensive for most teams, but at 25 he's a great gamble for Boston."



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