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The Red Sox finally started shaking up the team this week. First, they signed Kelly Shoppach. Then, they made a pretty significant trade:
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Melancon’s exact role with the 2012 Red Sox is not known. The 26-year-old closed for Houston in 2011, saving 20 games and finishing with a 2.78 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He gives the team depth and some financial flexibility. He’s not arbitration-eligible until 2014 and won’t be a free agent until 2017.
Rumors have the Red Sox after A’s closer Andrew Bailey, which would likely mean Melancon would slide into the eighth inning role, but for now, pencil him in as the closer. Either way, the Red Sox bullpen, a current gaping hole for the Red Sox, got significantly stronger with the Melancon acquisition.
The Red Sox, though, may miss Jed Lowrie, who has shown he has a good amount of pop in his bat but has a ton of trouble staying healthy. The 27-year-old has not played more than 88 games in any of his four major league seasons.
Kyle Weiland, 25, still has time to develop. He pitched for the starter-starved Red Sox over the last few months, finishing with a 7.66 ERA over 24.2 major league innings. He may start for a bad Houston team right away.
Perhaps in response to dealing away infielder Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox signed light-hitting infielder Nick Punto on Wednesday to a two-year, $3 million deal with a chance to earn an additional $500,000 in incentives.
The 34-year-old Punto hit .278 with one HR and 20 RBI in just 67 games for the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. While he does have an unimpressive bat, Punto has long been known as a good character guy in the clubhouse and has been an above-average defensive player at third base, shortstop, and second base.
He figures to compete with Mike Aviles for a spot as the team’s utility infielder.