Sox add an arm, obtain Byrd from Tribe
Veteran right-hander has been sterling since the All-Star break
BOSTON -- For all the depth the Red Sox have on their team and in their farm system, one aspect of this stretch run toward the pennant could not be overlooked: Their starting rotation is, at the moment, battered and bruised.
It started earlier in the season with disabled list stints by Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz. Then Bartolo Colon went on the DL in mid-June. Over the weekend, Tim Wakefield cited tightness in his throwing shoulder, and he joined the ranks of the injured on Tuesday.
So when the opportunity came to make a deal for Paul Byrd from the Cleveland Indians, Boston jumped at the chance. The 37-year-old veteran is heading to the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
"You never want to get caught short on starting pitching in August or September, because there's very little you can do about it," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "So this was a way to do that without dipping into our farm system for someone we can trust."
It was a matter of finding a seasoned pitcher to bolster the top half of the rotation while adding durability and dependability. With Buchholz being 0-5 since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July, Byrd will take the young right-hander's place in the rotation by taking the hill against Toronto on Friday.
"We thought that, if we waited for things to shake out with some of our players who are on the DL, we might not get another opportunity to add a player of this caliber at a relatively reasonable cost," Epstein said.
Byrd will arrive in Boston on Tuesday, bringing his current effectiveness with him. Despite being 7-10 with a 4.53 ERA overall for the Indians -- who are in last place in the American League Central -- he's 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA since the All-Star break.
The right-hander will be reunited with manager Terry Francona, for whom he played three seasons in Philadelphia in 1998-2000.
"I'm a big fan of Tito," Byrd said. "And I think the Red Sox have a great thing going. It's really hard to be disappointed about anything Boston has to offer, so I'm looking forward to being here tomorrow and get under way."
Given that the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is passed, Byrd had to go through waivers before being traded. Teams have the option of claiming a waived player, in reverse order of the standings. No teams put in a claim on Byrd. The team putting the player through waivers can either let the player go, pull him back or try to work out a deal with the team that claimed the player.
With the Sox currently sitting four games behind the Rays in the AL East and hanging onto a two-game lead in the Wild Card race, this is exactly what Francona and his squad are looking for.
Boston gives Byrd another shot toward the end of his career to attain that coveted World Series ring. Last season, Byrd went 15-8 for the Indians, who captured the AL Central Division title, and pitched the AL Division Series-clinching game against the Yankees. He also defeated the Red Sox in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series, which the Tribe lost to the eventual World Series champions in seven games.
This time, the Sox no longer stand in his way.
"You only get so many chances," Byrd said. "I don't want to be in a place where nobody cares or anything like that. ... Since I was a little boy, I've wanted to play in a World Series, and that hasn't happened to me yet.
"It's important to me personally, and I'm excited the Red Sox have taken a chance and put their faith in me. I want to deliver."
Epstein and the Sox organization felt the same way toward Byrd, who seems to give them that one additional arm they need during a time where hurlers are necessary and vital to the stretch run.
"I think we saw it as a good opportunity," Epstein said. "We added depth to the starting rotation at a time of year when it's hard to add depth."
Byrd, who made his Major League debut in 1995, spent time with the Mets, Braves, Phillies, Royals, Angels before his time with the Indians. He's 104-91 lifetime with a 4.37 ERA.
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.