After 13 seasons with the Red Sox organization, free agent outfielder Trot Nixon, who was not offered arbitration by the team in December, signed a one-year deal worth $3 million to start fresh in Cleveland and will wear number 33 with the Indians. Drafted out of high school by the Red Sox in 1993, Nixon was known for his hard-nose style of play, noted by the batting helmet he often wore that was covered in dirt and pine tar; although not as flashy as some of his teammates, he earned the respect of the Boston faithful and the distinction of being one of the team’s original “Dirt Dogs.”
After two quick cups of coffee, his first full season with the Red Sox came in 1999; early on, it appeared as though he would return to the minors when he started out of the gate barely hitting above .100. However, he recovered well enough to finish with a .270 batting average, 15 home runs, and 52 RBI. In ten seasons with Boston, Nixon batted .278, hit 133 home runs, and drove in 523 runs while managing a .366 on-base percentage. He also became a master of Fenway’s often-tricky right field and managed a .984 fielding percentage in that position for most of his time in Boston.
Among his highlights with the Red Sox included a two-run home run in the top of the ninth at Yankee Stadium on 30 May 2000 in a duel between then-teammate Pedro Martinez and ex-Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens; those two runs were the difference in an eventual 2-0 win for Boston. He also drove home the final two runs for Boston in the deciding Game Four of the 2004 World Series on a two-out double off the right field wall at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in the top of the third inning to give Boston a 3-0 lead. Those also proved to be the last runs scored by either team in that game as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals for the team’s first championship title in 86 years. For the series, Nixon batted .357 and drove in three runs after spending most of the regular season nursing injuries.
With Boston expected to announce the signing of outfielder J.D. Drew in the near future, Nixon’s departure was not unexpected, given that he would likely end up sharing a bench role with Wily Mo Pena, eight years his junior and also seen as a back-up first baseman to Kevin Youkilis.