The deal is official. Eric Hinske is now a member of the Red Sox, and a closer look at him seems in order. First, the basics. He was born in 1977 and has played in the majors since 2002, when he earned Rookie of the Year honors. He grew up in the Cubs system after being drafted by them in 1998. He was traded to the A's in 2001 and remained there for the season before being traded by them to the Blue Jays for Billy Koch in 2002.
His career batting line is a modest .258/.335/.430/.765. This year, he's hitting way better, notching .264/.353/.513/.866. His batting average is still low, but his OBP has increased somewhat and his slugging has improved a lot.
Hinske plays 1B, 3B and RF. He had been a first/third baseman his entire career up to this season, when the Jays acquisitions of Overbay and Glaus forced him into the outfield, where he has platooned with Alex Rios. He is an ok third baseman (.953 career fielding percentage, .720 zone rating), solid first baseman (.993 fielding percentage, .901 zone rating) and has been a-ok in right field this year(1.000 fielding percentage, .816 zone rating in 214 innings). His probabilistic model of range at third base, as calculated by Baseball Musings, can be found here. As you can see, he would be capable of playing all three positions and should make for a nice utility player off the bench.
As for his contract, he's signed through 2007 and owed 5.625 million for next season. MLB4U sums up the fiscal effects of the transfer like this:
The trade has been made for a PTBNL. The most likely candidate to be sent is Jed Lowrie. Another possibility would be Alejandro Machado. There's more on this in Tom Leach's diary entry.
As for the reason for the trade, there is an alarming bit of speculation floating around. Via Baseball Musings, I found a SawxBlog blog entry that claims to have a source that says that Trot's injury is much more severe than is being let on. According to this report, Trot might be out for the rest of the year and possibly even next year. I'm fairly unfamiliar with SawxBlog and have only visited the site a handful of times before, so I don't know how much credence this report should be given. I figured I'd report it anyway, and let you guys decide what you believe.
Overall, Hinske is a solid utility player who could serve as a backup to Youk, Lowell and Wily Mo. As for the corresponding roster move to make room for Hinske, the most likely man to be sent down is Kapler. We can't ditch a pitcher with the five-game series with the MFY coming up, Cora needs to be on the bench in case Gonzo's knee breaks down and we obviously need more than one catcher. Kapler thus seems to be the man on the move, for now.