Red Sox acquire Williamson from Reds
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The trade bolsters the Red Sox bullpen as the team tries to overtake the New York Yankees in the AL East. Williamson, the NL Rookie of the Year in 1999, had converted 21 of 26 save opportunities.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said Williamson has a fastball in the mid- to high-90s, along with a good slider and split-finger fastball.
"He's got three well-above-average pitches, and it's really a potent combination coming out of the bullpen," Epstein said.
Williamson will be used as a setup man for closer Byung-Hyun Kim, acquired in a May 29 trade with Arizona. Williamson was a setup man for Reds closer Danny Graves until he was moved into the rotation this season.
"We're extraordinarily happy with the job that Byung-Hyun Kim has done as a closer," Epstein said.
Kim made five starts for the Red Sox before manager Grady Little shifted him to closer in late June, but Epstein said the possibility of Kim returning to the rotation and Williamson becoming the closer is "remote."
"We'll talk to the players before we start talking about their roles and how we think they're going to be used," Little said. "I'm sure we can find plenty of places for him to work."
It was the Reds' first trade since they fired general manager Jim Bowden on Monday, leaving it to his aides to come up with deals.
"We've been talking to the Reds on and off for a week or two," Epstein said. "Once they made their move in the front office, things really accelerated. ... We got down to business very quickly."
Williamson was the most attractive Reds player available in a trade. He avoided arbitration in the offseason by agreeing to a $1.6 million, one-year deal.
He had figured the club might deal another player who makes more money.
"I'm very surprised, to be honest with you," Williamson said. "I'm just trying to figure out why they traded me. I'm not making as much compared to the other guys."
The Reds got left-hander Phillip Dumatrait, a player to be named later and an undisclosed amount of cash. Dumatrait, 22, was 7-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 21 games at Class A Sarasota. But he was not considered one of Boston's front-line prospects, Epstein said.
Boston is still looking to acquire another starter before Thursday's deadline for trades without waivers.
"A great opportunity came along, and we feel that we made our team a lot better," Epstein said. "We're not done."
Reds players feared their front office wasn't done trading, either. They figured that once Bowden was fired, the franchise might move quickly to deal players before Thursday's deadline.
Williamson learned of the trade in the bullpen during a 5-3 loss to Colorado.
"There's a lot of frustration going on in here right now, but hopefully we can right the ship," first baseman Sean Casey said. "Until the trading deadline is over, I think everyone is kind of on edge."
Assistant general manager Brad Kullman said the Reds began contacting clubs again after Bowden's firing to see if they could work a deal.
"To say there's no financial considerations here is not accurate," Kullman said. "But we're not under any orders to dump 'X' amount of money or certain players. We're under orders to explore what we can do. We're not going to stand pat."
Pitcher Ryan Dempster hoped the club doesn't get rid of a lot more players.
"I think we know where we're headed. We're trying to get rid of some payroll and slim some things down," Dempster said. "It's nothing new to me. I've been through this before, playing in Florida. Hopefully it's not too extreme. It's unfortunate."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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