Reports indicate that the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros have worked out a deal that will send 26 year old right handed reliever Mark Melancon from Houston to Boston in exchange for shortstop Jed Lowrie and right handed starter Kyle Weiland.

With Daniel Bard leaving the bullpen for the rotation and the fact that the Red Sox still don’t have a definite closer for 2012, this acquisition was necessary. In terms of giving up Lowrie and Weiland, it likely didn’t cost the team as much as a package for Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey would have. The fact that Melancon won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after 2013 means that it was also cheaper with more control than what the San Diego Padres got from acquiring Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies.

Melancon, a former New York Yankees prospect who came over to the Astros with Jimmy Paredes in the Lance Berkman trade of 2010, throws a 93 miles per hour 4-seamer that goes along with an equally fast cutter and an 83 miles per hour curveball. He put up a good strikeout rate, an average walk rate and a really good ground ball rate in 71 appearances this past season.

I’m not sure what to think of Jed Lowrie. Like most Red Sox prospects, there’s an element of hype that can be difficult to look past. He was on a roll in the early going of this season, but injuries took their toll and the middle infielder finished the year with a disappointing .297 wOBA in 341 plate appearances.

Weiland didn’t look all that awesome in his brief audition in the Majors in 2011, but he has put up solid Minor League numbers and at the age of 25 definitely has a chance to offer the Astros some help at the back of the rotation as soon as this coming season. The former third round pick throws a 93 miles per hour fastball with some sink, as well as a hard slider and a slower curve.

At this point, the Astros just need Major League ready players that won’t cost them very much and could end up offering some upside. Both Lowrie and Weiland do this.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Melancon acquisition doesn’t take them out of the running for Ryan Madson.