CLEVELAND – The Boston Red Sox got the big bat they were looking for, acquiring All-Star slugger Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians on Friday.
The rebuilding Indians received right-hander Justin Masterson and minor league pitchers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price. Cleveland’s second major trade in 72 hours — they dealt reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to Philadelphia on Wednesday — came shortly before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline to complete deals without waivers.
The 30-year-old Martinez has split his time at catcher and first base this season. The switch-hitter is batting .284 with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs.
Martinez, who had spent his whole career with Cleveland, fought back tears after being told by general manager Mark Shapiro that been traded. He sat in front of his locker, hugging 4-year-old son Victor Jr. — earlier in the day, the young boy asked his dad, “Are we still an Indian?”
“It’s tough,” Martinez said, his voice choked with emotion. “It’s tough when you know you’re leaving your house and leaving the organization that gave you a chance to play in the big leagues. This organization made me a better ballplayer and a better person. It’s tough but life continues and I have to keep moving on.
“This was my home.”
Martinez leaves Cleveland a day before the Indians were to hold Victor Martinez Bobblehead Night at Progressive Field in their game against Detroit. Before Friday’s game, workers for a sign company removed banners outside the ballpark with Martinez’s picture on them.
Martinez will move right into a pennant race, joining a Red Sox team that is second in the AL East behind the New York Yankees, but leads the wild-card chase.
“Everybody knows I play to win,” said Martinez, a three-time All-Star, who entered the season with a .298 career average. “I love this game and I’ll go there and do the same thing. As soon as I cross the line, I’m all about winning.”
Martinez’s deal completed a rash of trades by the Indians, who have acquired 11 players — nine of them pitchers — in five trades since June 27.
Cleveland, which began the weekend 12 games out of first in the AL Central, has slashed nearly 25 million in payroll by trading Lee, Martinez, third baseman Mark DeRosa, reliever Rafael Betancourt and first baseman Ryan Garko.
“When you don’t perform or have good results, things are going to happen like this,” Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore said. “It’s start from scratch now.”
Martinez will likely share catching duties in Boston with Jason Varitek and can fill in at first base and designated hitter.
“What we’re getting in Victor is a middle of the order, switch-hitting batter, who can catch, play first, DH,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “It’s a very valuable piece, There are a lot of things to like about Victor. He can help take a little off Tek (Varitek) and we can do a lot to hopefully be able to attack a lot of the better pitching in the league.”
The Red Sox did not give up Clay Buchholz, one of their top pitching prospects, for Martinez. But they did part with three quality arms in order to bolster their lineup.
The versatile Masterson was Boston’s second-round pick in 2006. He went 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 appearances, including six starts for the Red Sox this season. The 6-foot-6 righty was a key part of the Red Sox’s run to the playoffs a year ago, going 6-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 36 games after being called up from the minors.
Shapiro said Masterson will be recalled on Saturday and will immediately join the starting rotation.
Masterson, who grew up in Ohio, had mixed emotions on changing teams.
“Bittersweet is the word,” he said in Baltimore before the Red Sox faced the Orioles. “I’ll be going home to where I grew up, but I will be leaving a great organization in the Red Sox. It was a great opportunity for me to be here, but I’ll still be getting a great opportunity.”
The 23-year-old Hagadone, a 6-foot-5 lefty, has pitched sparingly since being drafted No. 55 overall by the Red Sox in 2007. He missed much of the 2008 season after having Tommy John surgery and has worked only 25 innings this year, going 0-2 with a 2.52 ERA at Class A Greenville.
Price was drafted 45th overall in 2008. The 22-year-old righty has struggled in his first two years of pro ball, going just 5-11 record with a 4.42 ERA in 31 outings.
This marked the second straight year the Red Sox made a splash at the July 31 trade deadline. Last season, they dealt away Manny Ramirez and got Jason Bay.
In 2004, the Red Sox also made a last-minute deal, trading away popular Nomar Garciaparra and acquiring Orlando Cabrera to play shortstop. Boston went on to win the World Series that year.
The Red Sox held a three-game lead in the AL East at the All-Star break, but a five-game losing streak on the ensuing road trip dropped them into second place behind the rival Yankees.
Boston has won only four of its last 12 games, has a losing record on the road and five of the starting nine are batting .250 or below.
Boston general manager Theo Epstein has been active this month: He traded shortstop Julio Lugo to St. Louis for minor leaguer Chris Duncan, got outfielder Brian Anderson from the Chicago White Sox for infielder Mark Kotsay and acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche from Pittsburgh for prospects. LaRoche was traded Friday to Atlanta for first baseman Casey Kotchman.
But a bigger deal, for Toronto ace Roy Halladay, fell apart when Boston refused to part with both Buchholz and reliever Daniel Bard.
AP Sports Writers Jimmy Golen in Boston and David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.