The Boston Red Sox have traded infielder Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland to the Houston Astros for relief pitcher Mark Melancon, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
The Red Sox might have found the successor to Jonathan Papelbon in Melancon.
In his first season as closer, the 26-year-old Melancon converted 20 of 25 save chances last season (the Astros won just 56 games) and had a 2.78 ERA, with 66 strikeouts and 26 walks in 74 1/3 innings.
Melancon, who was drafted by the Yankees in 2006 and went to Houston in the July 2010 trade that landed Lance Berkman to New York, figures to be under Red Sox control for a while. He will not be eligible for arbitration until 2014 and he will not be eligible for free agency until 2017.
Lowrie, a 27-year-old Stanford product, is a .252 hitter in parts of four seasons with Boston. He played primarily at shortstop during an injury-marred tenure with the Red Sox, but also logged some time at the other three infield positions.
Lowrie's 309 at-bats in 2011 were the most of his career in a single season.
The Lowrie acquisition comes less than a week after Jeff Luhnow left the St. Louis Cardinals' front office to take over as Houston's general manager.
The 25-year-old Weiland went 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in seven games for the Red Sox last season. The former Notre Dame pitcher was taken by the Red Sox in the third round of the 2008 draft.
Papelbon had been the Red Sox closer since 2006, a span in which he racked up 219 saves. A free agent this offseason for the first time, Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies soon after free agency began.
The Red Sox had shown interest in free agent Ryan Madson, and it's not clear if this acquisition takes them out of the running for the former Phillies closer.
Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard, who set up for Papelbon last season, was considered by many to be the best internal option to close games next season in Boston, but new manager Bobby Valentine said over the weekend that Bard would be stretched out in spring training to possibly become a starting pitcher.