The Boston Red Sox must look to the trade market to fix their abysmal bullpen, and these five relievers are realistic targets.
For the Boston Red Sox, the defense of their 2018 World Series title has not gone nearly as well as hoped. They will enter the All-Star break outside of a playoff spot and are over 10 games back of the New York Yankees for the division title. There are plenty of contributing factors for Boston’s World Series hangover, but none more glaring than the team’s shoddy bullpen performance.
Last weekend, the Red Sox traveled across the Atlantic to play in MLB’s first series in London. They were swept handily by the Yankees and outscored 29-21 over the two-game set. In the process, their bullpen was tagged for 21 runs, including an ugly nine-spot on Sunday that turned a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning to a 12-8 loss.
The Red Sox are clearly missing All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel something bad, but the front office dug their heels in and refused to pay him. Boston has gotten solid performances here and there from their relievers, but there are a lot of bloated ERAs on the team’s stat sheet at the moment. The Red Sox still have not established a permanent replacement for Kimbrel, and are going to try Nathan Eovaldi in the role when he returns from offseason elbow surgery.
It’s clear the Red Sox need to acquire bullpen help before the trade deadline, but getting high-end relief names may be difficult given the team’s weak farm system. First baseman Triston Casas or left-handed starter Darwinzon Hernandez might be intriguing enough to bring back a quality reliever. If not, the Red Sox will have to look a little further down the pecking order. If the Red Sox get out in front of the market and the rest of the contenders, they may be able to get what they need.
5. Shane Greene
We’ll see how the Nathan Eovaldi experiment goes at closer for the Red Sox, but they will likely have a short trigger with him. Eovaldi has only pitched in relief eight times in his career, and four of those appearances came in his rookie season in 2011. Eovaldi has also suffered elbow injuries in each of the past two seasons and missed all of 2017 with Tommy John. Asking him to take on a relief role at this point of his career with his injury history feels like a stretch.
If Eovaldi can’t handle closing, the Red Sox may need to look to the trade market to acquire a true closer. Detroit Tigers closer Shane Greene could emerge as the cheapest ninth-inning option on the market. The 30-year-old is having a career season and made his first All-Star team with a 0.87 ERA through 31 games with 22 saves. Greene has a 4.56 career ERA and struggled in 2018. His inconsistent career may keep his trade value down, but it could still be a push for the Red Sox to entice the Tigers with their weak prospect pool.