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July 31, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Red Sox deal Lars Anderson to Cleveland for knuckleballer Steven Wright

The Red Sox have traded first baseman Lars Anderson (pictured) to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for right-handed pitcher Steven Wright. Wright was pitching for the Double-A Akron Aeros, and primarily throws a knuckleball.

Wright, 27, was originally drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft by the Indians as a more traditional pitcher, sporting a fastball the regularly broke 90. Wright and the Indians made a joint decision to attempt the conversion to throwing the knuckleball primarily, and he hooked on with former major league pitcher Tom Candiotti to learn the pitch, as detailed in this piece from Bill Lubinger at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

After struggling in 2011, Wright has made strides in 2012. In 20 starts for Akron, he has posted a 9-6 record and 2.49 ERA, striking out 101 and walking 62 in his 115.2 innings of work. Wright will report to Double-A Portland.

The move represents a fresh start for Anderson, once rated by SoxProspects.com as the top prospect in the Boston system, and the #17 prospect in all of baseball before the 2009 season by Baseball America. These accolades came following his stellar 2008 season, in which he hit .317/.408/.513 in 77 games for High A Lancaster before being promoted to Double-A Portland. There he continued to produce at a higher level, batting .316/.436/.526 in 41 games. The performance earned him the label as Boston's first-baseman-of-the-future.

Unfortunately, Anderson's power numbers never returned to that level, delivering a slugging percentage over .425 in only one season since the heights of 2008, while struggling with strikeouts. He made his major league debut on September 6, 2010, and appeared in 30 games over three seasons with the Red Sox. With Adrian Gonzalez firmly entrenched as the first baseman, the Red Sox nearly dealt Anderson at the 2011 deadline, pulling out of a deal at the last minute with the Oakland Athletics because of the medical reports on pitcher Rich Harden. The club worked with Anderson this year on playing the outfield in order to increase his versatility, but his offense continued to sputter, as he hit .259/.359/.415 with Pawtucket.

Photo Credit: Lars Anderson by Kelly O'Connor