A's trade Bailey, Sweeney to Red Sox
For Andrew Bailey, coming in from the bullpen at Fenway Park is a special feeling.
He'll experience that a lot more next season.
New manager Bobby Valentine found his new man for the back end of the Boston bullpen on Wednesday when the Red Sox obtained the All-Star closer and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Josh Reddick, infield prospect Miles Head and minor league pitcher Raul Alcantara.
In the deal, first reported by ESPN, Bailey gives the Red Sox a reliable ninth-inning guy to replace the departed Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a $50 million, four-year contract as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in November.
The 27-year-old Bailey has three saves in four appearances at Fenway Park in his three major-league seasons.
''The one that sticks out the most was my first save opportunity this year was against the Red Sox,'' Bailey said in a conference call. ''I actually blew that save. From what I remember, there's nothing like the atmosphere of running into the game from the bullpen at Fenway Park.''
A New Jersey native and offseason resident of Connecticut, Bailey is excited about coming back east.
He already knows Valentine, who lives in Stamford, Conn., and hosted several events for the pediatric cancer foundation of Bailey and former teammate Craig Breslow.
''Bobby and I are good friends,'' Bailey said. ''It just kind of helps knowing someone going in.''
Bailey - the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, who made the All-Star team that season and again in 2010 - had been the subject of trade talk this offseason.
The right-hander went 0-4 with a 3.24 ERA and 24 saves in 41 2-3 innings and 42 appearances this year. He spent time on the disabled list for the second straight season, pitching for the first time in 2011 on May 29 after being sidelined with a strained right forearm.
''I'm feeling good,'' he said. ''This is my first healthy offseason I've had since I've been in the big leagues.''
In his career, he is 7-10 with a 2.07 ERA and 75 saves in 84 opportunities. In 2010, Oakland led the AL in ERA (3.56) and shutouts (17) while holding opponents to a .245 batting average.
Bailey becomes the fourth key pitcher traded this month for the rebuilding A's, who dealt starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Breslow to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Dec. 9 and then sent left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez to Washington last week.
Braden, who pitched a perfect game on May 9, 2010, received a $3.35 million, one-year contract Dec. 13. But he made only three starts last season before being sidelined by a shoulder injury that required surgery.
''That organization is heading down a different road where they're trying to get younger and build for a future in San Jose,'' Bailey said.
Oakland general manager Billy Beane is retooling his roster for the future in hopes of the franchise getting the go ahead to build a new ballpark some 40 miles south in San Jose despite the San Francisco Giants owning the territorial rights to technology-rich Santa Clara County.
Beane and owner Lew Wolff have said they expect to hear soon from Commissioner Bud Selig, and Beane said the unsettled stadium situation would affect him being able to sign his own and other free agents this winter. He has gone the trade route yet again, a common practice for the low-budget franchise that has watched its superstars leave for big money elsewhere over the past decade.
The A's (74-88) haven't posted a winning record or earned a playoff berth since being swept in the 2006 AL championship series by Detroit.
The Red Sox missed the playoffs the past two years, but won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.
''I think every kid playing T-ball out there strives to pitch in the postseason and meaningful games in September and, ultimately, the World Series,'' Bailey said. ''So I'm going to welcome that with open arms.''
On Dec. 14, Boston traded for Houston closer Mark Melancon, who had 20 saves last year in 71 relief outings but may be a setup man for Bailey.
''We believe both are fully capable of (closing),'' Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. ''Bailey's been doing it for a little bit longer so perhaps he goes in with the leg up.''
Sweeney is in the mix for Boston's right field job now that J.D. Drew is a free agent. He's an outstanding fielder who can play all three spots. In six seasons, he has a .283 batting average after hitting .265 with one homer and 25 RBIs in 264 at bats last season.
Reddick, who began last season at Triple-A Pawtucket before being promoted in late May, will look to fill a big void in Oakland's open outfield.
The 24-year-old Reddick batted .280 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 87 games for Boston in 2011. He can play any outfield spot and likely will get immediate action for the A's, who already lost outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham in free agency. Center fielder Coco Crisp isn't expected to return either.
At last summer's trade deadline, the A's and Red Sox were near completion on a deal that would have sent Oakland right-hander Rich Harden to Boston for Triple-A first baseman Lars Anderson, but it fell through late because of Harden's lengthy list of injury issues.
Former Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young returned to the A's this offseason to work under manager Bob Melvin.
Head, a first baseman, batted .299 with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs in 129 games with the Red Sox two Single-A affiliates, at Greenville and Salem.
The right-handed Alcantara, 19, combined for a 1-4 record and a 2.20 ERA in 13 starts with Single-A Lowell and the Red Sox affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. He struck out 50 and walked just 12 while holding opponents to a .208 batting average.
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this story.