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Sox land Hermida to open offseason

Sox land Hermida to open offseason

BOSTON -- The construction of the 2010 Red Sox is officially under way, as general manager Theo Epstein made his first move of the Hot Stove season, acquiring outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins on Thursday.

Less than 24 hours after the Yankees capped 2009 by defeating the Phillies in the World Series, Epstein got a head start on his winter by bringing some additional depth to the outfield.

In Hermida, the Red Sox get a player who was once highly-touted enough to be the 11th overall pick by the Marlins in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

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Still just 25 years old, Hermida -- who bats left and throws right -- hasn't been able to put together sustained success in his four years with the Marlins. He is a .265 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs over 516 games.

"Hermida is a player who hasn't fulfilled his potential yet and we acquired him today for a reasonable cost to see if he might be able to fulfill that potential with us," said Epstein. "He's somebody who has positive indicators that future performance might be better than his past performance. His Minor League track record, his age, draft pedigree, our scouting reports over the years, indicate that there's a chance he can turn into the player that he was once thought to be.

"Certainly this is a good time to acquire him when his value is a little bit low and we'll see if, with a change of scenery, he might be able to fulfill his potential."

In exchange for Hermida, the Red Sox sent to the Marlins Minor League left-handers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.

It is too early to tell yet how Hermida, a left-handed hitter who can play both corner outfield spots, will fit into the Red Sox's roster next season.

"[Theo] told me, they were excited to get me," Hermida said by phone. "I'd been on their radar for a long, long time, and they wanted to get me to be part of the Boston Red Sox. They said we'll be in touch the next couple of days and give me more detail. He expressed his excitement in getting me on the team."

Hermida started 73 games in right field in 2009 and 40 in left. J.D. Drew is under contract to play right field for Boston over the next two years. There could be an opening in left field, where Jason Bay is a free agent.

There's a strong chance Hermida will be used off the bench in a Mark Kotsay type of role. Once Kotsay was designated for assignment last July, the Red Sox lacked a left-handed outfield bat off the bench.

"Nobody can answer that," said Epstein, when asked what role Hermida will play. "When you acquire a player, sometimes you acquire them because you think there's a chance, that with a change of scenery, they might grow into their potential or into their promise. He's somebody who had, and we feel, may still have considerable promise. This is a player who was highly sought after as an amateur, he wound up going 11th in the country.

"He's about to turn 26 and about to move into his prime years. Sometimes talented young players who have struggled at the big league level put it altogether. Sometimes they don't. When you have a chance to acquire one for what we believe to be a very reasonable cost, we think that's the type of move that makes sense."

In 2009, Hermida hit .259 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs to go along with a .348 on-base percentage. He struck out 101 times while slugging just .392.

Hermida's best season was 2007, when he hit .296 with 18 homers, 63 RBIs and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .870.

"His performance certainly hasn't been as good the last two years as it was in 2007," Epstein said. "I can tell you that's the reason we were able to acquire him today. Had he maintained that performance or had linear progression from 2007 to today, there's no way we would have been trading for him today, let alone with this kind of deal. He's a guy who needs to figure it out, needs to get straightened out to reach his potential. I think there's a chance he will."

After making $2.25 million in 2009, Hermida was lined up for a pay raise in his second season of arbitration eligibility. The Marlins opted to go in a different direction.

"You kind of figured it was coming from the business side of it," Hermida said. "You look back and I had a great time with the Marlins. I'm definitely going to miss it here. I made some great friends and they treated me very well here. On the other hand, I'm very excited to go to a city like Boston and a team like that. There isn't a better team, in comparison. Just the history and the fan base that they have. I'm very excited to go up there and be a part of that as well."

Jones served two stints with the Red Sox in 2009, posting a 9.24 ERA in 11 relief appearances. He made 36 outings at Triple-A Pawtucket, going 4-3 with a 4.25 ERA.

Alvarez, 20, combined to go 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA and 74 strikeouts at Class A Salem and Class A Lowell. Signed by the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent in 2005, Alvarez was 23-15 record with a 3.21 ERA (116 earned runs over 325 2/3 innings pitched) in 76 career Minor League appearances for Boston.

In additional roster moves, the Red Sox outrighted shortstop Nick Green, outfielder Joey Gathright and right-hander Fernando Cabrera to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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