The Red Sox announced today that they have demoted third baseman Will Middlebrooks to Triple-A Pawtucket and purchased the contract of infielder Brandon Snyder. To make room on the 40-man roster, David Ross was transferred to the 60-day DL.
Middlebrooks is batting just .192/.228/.389 through 216 plate appearances this season. He figures to be replaced by the sizzling Jose Iglesias, whose .426/.479/.565 batting line, while unsustainable, was too much for manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington to ignore.
The demotion comes exactly 366 days after the team traded franchise cornerstone Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox in order to pave a path to regular playing time for Middlebrooks. At the time, Middlebrooks was off to a hot start after ranking as the game's No. 51 prospect prior to the 2012 season according to Baseball America and No. 56 according to MLB.com. Moving Youkilis to first base wasn't an option, of course, because Adrian Gonzalez was in just the second year of a seven-year, $154MM extension.
Twelve months later, it's Iglesias manning third base and free agent addition Mike Napoli handling first base duties, following last summer's blockbuster trade of Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.
When asked about the decision by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Farrell offered the following:
"This became about Will getting regular at-bats. He's an important part of us today as much as he is going forward. For him to get back on track, to make an impact with us, he needs everyday at-bats. That's where he's headed right now."
Farrell went on to say that Middlebrooks' skills haven't gone backwards and it's not uncommon to see young players like Middlebrooks struggle after early success. Farrell didn't offer a timetable for Middlebrooks' return to the Majors.