The Red Sox are winners of seven of their last 10 games and are well within striking distance of the postseason. It’s time to add a better late-innings option.
Earlier this week, there was a report from Ian Browne of MLB.com quoting manager Joey Cora talking about his team having to meet expectations before the front office a truly endorse being buyers at the deadline.
“The front office has a job to do,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Obviously our goals are set to win the World Series. If it doesn’t look that way and they go somewhere else and take another approach, you’ve got to respect that. At the end, we have to perform and we have to win games.
“We haven’t been consistent about it. We have to play better, win games, and I’m not saying put pressure on [the front office], but at the same time show them yeah, this group is capable. We know the group is talented. It’s just a matter of going out there and performing.”
And while it seems silly to think that the defending World Series champions might sit out the trade deadline or possibly even consider selling off veterans, Boston hasn’t been able to keep pace with the Yankees or Rays in the division. They were a couple of games behind the Rays and A’s for the final AL wild-card spot and had just dropped a series against Baltimore, allowing the Orioles to score 22 runs in a three-game series.
Things felt like they were slipping away from Boston, but after winning their next series against Tampa Bay and now guaranteeing at least a split with the Yankees this weekend while scoring a combined 29 runs in the 1st two games of the series, the Red Sox are back in the driver seat of their season.
But despite their recent run of games, the Red Sox have been on, their bullpen has still lacked a true closer since they let Craig Kimbrel go this past off-season. Currently, the plan is to allow former starter Nathan Eovaldi handling the 9th inning, but the guys getting him the ball before that are less than reliable. The Red Sox bullpen has blown 18 saves this season, is tied for the 4th most in the league at the moment, while only the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rockies, and Marlins have fewer saves than the Red Sox’ 21 on the season.
RHP Brandon Workman has been the lone reliever the Red Sox have been able to lean on with a 2.12 ERA and a 12.3 K:9 on the season, so clearly there’s a need in the bullpen. But according to Jon Morosi, Boston is showing a lot of interest in the reliever market right now.
Daniel Hudson and Ken Giles of the Blue Jays are expected to be moved by Toronto this season, but the asking price is reportedly pretty steep and with the majority of the league also looking to add bullpen help it could make it tough for the Red Sox to part with a lot for a rental like Hudson. But Giles, at 28 years old, is a special reliever who’s under team control for another season and provides stability and insurance for Eovaldi should he struggle or get injured again.
The other name is Padres All-Star closer Kirby Yates, one of the top arms on the trade market this summer. The 32-year-old Yates has dominated all season long with a 1.02 ERA and an incredible 14.7 K:9, plus the closer has another year of arbitration eligibility. The Padres are reportedly looking for “an overwhelming offer” for Yates, but with San Diego falling out of the NL wild-card race the team might be willing to sell a few veteran assets off for young, cheap talent.
The question for Boston is whether or not they should move some talent from their already thinning farm system to acquire Yates or Giles, but while also fitting them into their budget. The Red Sox payroll is just under $244 mil on the season, according to Roster Resource, meaning the Red Sox are already more than $40 mil over the Luxury Tax and will likely want to avoid paying it once again.
But the Red Sox are in the midst of the toughest stretch in their season, playing either the Rays or Yankees until Aug. 4. If they can survive two weeks of battling with division rivals, the Red Sox should be in great shape for the postseason – but it’ll be that much tougher do that without some fortified bullpen help. Red Sox need to add Yates or Giles before the July 31st deadline otherwise they’ll be leaning heavily on Eovaldi – which is a risk Boston doesn’t need to take.