When Jalen Beeks first arrived at Hadlock Field on June 23, 2016, we knew we had a story – he was once a teammate of Andrew Benintendi at the University of Arkansas.

As for Beeks’ own prospects, well … he was a 12th round pick who carried a 3.03 ERA in Class A at the start of 2016. No one was labeling him as a can’t-miss major leaguer. But Beeks showed promise, reached Boston this year and, despite a couple of rocky outings, still shows promise.

But the Red Sox can’t wait.

Boston is not a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, which is constantly rebuilding and giving young pitchers a chance to develop.

Thus, Wednesday’s trade, sending Beeks to the Rays for major league veteran Nathan Eovaldi, a right-handed starter.

The Rays get a 25-year-old rookie left-hander who competes well and could be part of another rebuild.

The Red Sox get a starting pitcher who came off the disabled list at the end of May and has been firing (97 mph fastballs) – with a 0.98 WHIP, 53 strikeouts and eight walks in 57 innings. His is the proverbial “rental,” a free agent after this season.

But the Red Sox suddenly needed him this season. There is no timetable for Eduardo Rodriguez’s return from an ankle injury. Steven Wright (knee) may not come back. And Drew Pomeranz instilled no confidence Tuesday, after giving up two two-run homers in 42/3 innings against the hapless Orioles.

Yes, it is happy times for the Red Sox with their major league-best record. But the Yankees are in striking distance and Boston fans only need to go back to 2011.

Remember that season? Boston led the Yankees by three games near the end of July, and still were in first in September. But Boston tanked, finished seven games behind New York and a game behind the Rays, missing the playoffs.

This season, Boston can’t just depend on their three big pitchers (Chris Sale, Rich Porcello and David Price) and then hope.

Those of us who saw Beeks come through the minors, see a potential gem in the making. But he is also a pitcher who struggled in two big league appearances (nine earned runs in 61/3 innings). That seems an unfair sample size. But this is Boston. Maybe Beeks makes it, maybe not. But his sale value is high, and teams don’t give away quality starting pitchers.

There are better big-league pitchers that may be available (Toronto’s J.A. Happ, Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer), but the Sox were not going to out-bid other teams for them. President Dave Dombrowski’s cupboard of top prospects is thin. Other teams will offer more.

Boston does not need a top-of-the-rotation guy; just stability. Enter Eovaldi, a seven-year veteran who sat out last year after Tommy John surgery. He’s no guarantee (4.26 ERA, 11 home runs allowed) but after watching Pomeranz on Tuesday …

Pomeranz is apparently staying in the rotation, with Brian Johnson going to the bullpen. That’s a mistake. Johnson only began relieving this year (because he was out of minor league options). His ERA out of the pen is 5.10, with opponents hitting .293 against him.

In Johnson’s five starts, he has a 2.22 ERA, and a .250 opponents’ batting average.

Pomeranz has relieved before. In 2015, he was primarily a reliever for the Padres with a 2.10 ERA.

The Red Sox need a lefty (but not Johnson) in the bullpen. I always thought Beeks might get a shot, but Boston wants experience. If Pomeranz, who is just coming off the DL, can readjust to the bullpen, he could be an unexpected lift.

It was an interesting 24 hours for the Red Sox, Tuesday into Wednesday. On Tuesday night, in Baltimore, Boston faced an Orioles team who kept its closer – Zach Britton – on the bench, because he was being traded to the Yankees.

So, not only was the top available reliever not headed to Boston, he would be fitted for pinstripes.

Boston had to make a move and got Eovaldi.

Is there one more deal for Dombrowski?

The bullpen has been good all year, but there is concern, especially Joe Kelly who has gone from eighth-inning candidate to train wreck – 11.93 ERA over his last 11 appearances.

Keep shopping, Dave.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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