Theo Epstein, newly installed still-wet-behind-the-ears (how long will we have to be told that he's 28 anyway) GM of the Boston Red Sox, made his first trade acquiring second baseman Todd Walker for two minor-leaguers. My first thought was why were the Sox going after the ever-average Walker when Jeff Kent is on the open market almost begging for a job.
There are some things on Walker's side of the equation though. First, he is 5 years younger. Walker made just over $2 M last year and will make $3.4 M in 2003, the last year of his contract. Kent made $6 and may be anticipating more through free agency.
However, Kent was the top second baseman based on OPS this year in the majors. Walker was ninth. Kent was third last year; Walker was seventh. Both are about average defensively.
So basically Boston is trying to plug a huge hole (repatriated shortstop Rey Sanchez was their second baseman in 2002) with a slightly above average player who comes relatively cheaply instead of making a blockbuster deal for a superstar that could blow up in their faces. Is that a good strategy? Time will tell. But at least it is a strategy, something that has been lacking in Boston for some time.