|Thursday, August 31
Updated: September 1, 9:19 PM ET
Bichette deal frees up money for Reds
CINCINNATI -- Dante Bichette knew he'd been traded the moment he got the message to call Cincinnati Reds manager Jim Bowden.
"I said to myself, 'Please let it be Boston,'" Bichette said.
He got his wish and the Red Sox got a run producer Thursday by sending two low-level minor league pitchers to the Reds for the 36-year-old outfielder.
Both teams got what they needed most. The Reds had to free some salary for next season, when their young nucleus becomes eligible for arbitration. The Red Sox got a designated hitter and a proven clutch hitter for their playoff run.
"We've got a very specific need to be addressed if we're going to make the playoffs and that's run production," Boston general manager Dan Duquette said.
Playing in a hitter-friendly park in a homer-friendly era, the Red Sox have struggled to score runs. They led the American League in team ERA (4.18) at the time of the trade, but were third-worst in runs scored (647) and batting average (.268).
Bichette should help. He batted .295 in 125 games for the Reds with 16 homers and 76 RBIs and goes to Boston with a fondness for Fenway Park. He had a .366 average with three homers there when he played in the AL with Milwaukee and the Angels from 1988-92.
It's one of the places where he feels most comfortable.
"You step in the box and just have a feeling that you're going to do good in that park," he said. "Even when I wasn't quite as accomplished as a hitter, I felt good and strong there. The Green Monster seems real close. Hopefully that confidence will be right there when I step back in."
He quickly approved the trade and will be eligible for the postseason -- if Boston makes it that far. The Red Sox trail the Yankees by five games in the AL East and were 1½ games behind Cleveland in the wild card race.
Later in the day, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Midre Cummings, who leads the AL with 11 pinch-hits, from Minnesota for minor league infielder Hector De Los Santos.
The Red Sox have tried an assortment of players at DH, but none has done well enough to keep the job. Duquette said Bichette will DH and play some outfield.
Twice during the Reds' last homestand, Bichette made errors in right field that let in the go-ahead run in losses. He didn't object to being a DH in Boston, where he met his wife, Mariana.
"It's a place I've always wanted to play," he said. "I met my wife at the Gold's Gym beyond the Green Monster. I've had a lot of luck there."
The Reds got right-hander Chris Reitsma and left-hander John Curtice, neither of whom has pitched above Double-A. More important for the short term, the trade gave the Reds a little payroll room.
Bichette will make $6.5 million next season. The core of the Reds' young nucleus is eligible for arbitration and the club is trying to keep its payroll at the same level, so someone had to go.
"This will certainly put us within the ballpark of being able to keep that nucleus together," Bowden said.
The Reds' payroll on opening day was roughly $42 million, with Ken Griffey Jr. ($7 million) and Bichette ($6.5 million) making the two biggest base salaries.
The Reds got Bichette from Colorado on Oct. 30 to replace Greg Vaughn, their 1999 cleanup hitter who left through free agency. At the time, there appeared to be little chance they could get Griffey from Seattle.
When they traded for Griffey on Feb. 10, the Reds seemed to have one of the most formidable lineups in the NL. Just like the Red Sox, they have struggled to score runs.
The Reds fell out of contention in the NL Central, struggled to stay above .500 and essentially gave up on their season when they traded left-hander Denny Neagle to the Yankees on July 12.
"They expected some big things this year and the club got off to a slow start," Bichette said. "It (the trade) is a little bit of a surprise, but it's a pleasant surprise because of where I'm going."
Reitsma, 22, was 7-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 starts for Double-A Trenton this season. Curtice, 20, was 4-10 with a 6.49 ERA in 23 starts and two relief appearances for Class A Sarasota.