On Saturday, the Red Sox acquired John McDonald from the Phillies. McDonald, a 38-year old utility infielder, isn’t a game-changer. He’s not going to make the Red Sox significantly better than they were on Friday. But he did get me thinking about Jose Iglesias.
During Iglesias’ abbreviated tenure with the Red Sox, I, along with many others, believed that if he could hit .240, his sparkling defense would make him a worthwhile everyday player in the major leagues. Detractors had their doubts that the Cuban defector could even do that. Their arguments were not unfounded. Iglesias did little in the minors to show that he could be at least serviceable offensively in the big leagues. Defensively, however, the slender Iglesias was nothing short of spectacular. His glove was always major league ready.
Like Iglesias, McDonald is a defensive wiz who can play multiple positions in the infield. Baseball lifers like, Brian Butterfield, gush over McDonald’s prowess as a defender. This year is McDonald’s fifteenth in the major leagues. His career batting average is a paltry .235. McDonald is known across baseball as being a hard working pro, a guy who knows his role. But being a nice guy who works his butt off doesn’t get you a decade and a half if the bigs. The ability to come off the bench after not seeing action for a week and play well above average defense at more than one position? Yup. That will do it.
I’m not saying Iglesias couldn’t turn out to be a better player than McDonald. There is no doubt that he possesses more raw talent. But if you were to ask me if Iglesias has a better chance of being a .320/.368/.397 hitter (his current 2013 slash line) throughout his career or a player in the mold of McDonald, I would take the latter — and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
McDonald will join the Red Sox for the stretch run. He represents what Iglesias could very well become–a utility infielder who is almost never looking for a job. In turn, McDonald also represents why Ben Cherington should be praised for trading Iglesias to acquire Jake Peavy. It was the correct move.