BOSTON -- The St. Louis Cardinals traded right-hander Dustin Hermanson to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday in exchange for three minor leaguers.
The 28-year-old right-hander gives Boston a replacement for Hideo Nomo as a potential No. 2 starter, and he's a younger, cheaper alternative to 37-year-old free agent John Burkett, who is seeking $15 million over three years.
The Cardinals got outfielder Rick Asadoorian and first basemen Luis Garcia and Dustin Brisson.
Hermanson's salary may be a one-time cost of about $6 million this year, the final year of his contract. Boston has an option for 2003.
"We have filled our need for a quality starting pitcher," Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette said. "His addition and his dependability as a starter gives us a better platform to take a look at some of the other needs on our team."
Hermanson was 14-13 with a 4.45 ERA last season, matching a career high for wins.
Duquette likes Hermanson's "hard-and-crisp" fastball in the low-90s and wanted him last year, but it would have cost him Trot Nixon.
"This year we feel we acquired him for a much more reasonable price," he said.
Walt Jocketty, the Cardinals' general manager, said it was difficult to trade Hermanson, "but with our excess of pitching we felt that this was the right thing to do in order to create some payroll flexibility that will allow us to pursue an everyday player."
The trade could help the Cardinals pursue such free agents as outfielders Moises Alou and Reggie Sanders, and first baseman Tino Martinez. Jocketty said the deal helps replenish the Cardinals' farm system with three "quality" prospects.
Garcia hit .310 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 63 games for Class AA Trenton last season. Brisson and Asadoorian both played at Class A Augusta. Brisson hit .295 with 53 RBIs in 90 games, and Asadoorian hit .212 with 40 RBIs in 47 games.
Asadoorian was a Red Sox first-round draft pick in 1999 and is the latest of Boston's local talent to be dealt for starting pitching. Asadoorian was a star at Northbridge High School in central Massachusetts.
"We reluctantly included Rick in the trade," Duquette said. "We really like to draft and sign kids from New England."
Duquette said the trade doesn't preclude signing free-agent pitchers, including Burkett. In fact, it improves Boston's bargaining position.
"When asked about free agent second baseman Bret Boone, Duquette said it's shaping up as a buyer's market.
"This is going to be my fifth team after seven seasons," Hermanson said. "I'm excited for the new chance."
Hermanson was strong in the second half of last season when he won eight of his last 14 starts and had a 3.16 ERA. He is 61-61 with a 4.22 ERA in 155 starts and 48 relief appearances in the major leagues.
Hermanson pitched for Montreal from 1997 to 2000 and San Diego from 1995-96. He was a reliever with San Diego and was converted to a starter after joining Montreal.