Sox trade Pena to Nationals
Club sends outfielder and cash for player to be named
BOSTON -- As observers awaited the official release of Clay Buchholz's much-celebrated curveball at Fenway Park, the Red Sox front office worked against the clock to make a roster move.
"We don't have one yet," said manager Terry Francona during his morning press conference. "I promise we will."
As of Buchholz's first pitch at 1:09 p.m. ET, a 93-mph fastball, the team remained silent. Eight minutes later, with Buchholz returning to the dugout after escaping a first-inning jam, still no announcement had been made.
At 1:19, the Red Sox released details of a trade that was consummated before the game's first pitch. Wily Mo Pena, who cleared waivers, had been sent to the Washington Nationals with cash considerations for a player to be named, thus ending the 25-year-old outfielder's career in Boston.
Shortly before Game 2 of Friday's doubleheader, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein candidly addressed the move before the Boston media.
"The fact that we traded Wily Mo," Epstein said, "doesn't mean we don't necessarily believe in his talent. We were kind of running out of time for the fit to happen. It never really came about."
Despite relative good health, the former top prospect and six-year veteran has never played more than 110 Major League games in a season. After leaving behind a crowded Cincinnati outfield in a March 2006 trade that netted the Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, Pena had just 432 at-bats in two seasons as a member of the Red Sox.
"We thought we would likely have an injury in the outfield, either last year or this year, that would allow him to play every day," Epstein said. "That didn't come to pass, more than for a very short period last year. And it's really tough on him, being a 25-year-old kid [who's] not getting everyday at-bats. It's hard to blame him for failing to adjust to that role. It's a very difficult role. I think this is probably what's best for him. He goes somewhere where he can play every day; we get a player back that we like quite a bit."
Epstein declined to name the player whom the Red Sox will receive in return. He said the timetable for that announcement is "to be determined," because of "some of the complexities of [Major League] rules this time of year."
Francona briefly addressed the trade after Game 1.
"I think everybody will be pulling for Wily Mo," he said, noting Pena's likely role as an everyday outfielder in Washington. "I think he's probably going to get a chance... rather than just making him sit around, where it's harder for him to get better."
When asked about the original trade that netted Pena, Epstein called it "one that we probably want back."
"It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to," he said. "It certainly wasn't a good trade in retrospect. You know, from a pure sort of talent standpoint, in a vacuum, I guess, that can still be debated. Because Wily Mo certainly has the talent in the right situation to go up and hit a lot of home runs.
"But here, the fit never materialized," Epstein added. "He never really got an opportunity to play."
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.