By: Joe Spinosa
As the clock ticks down to Major League Baseball’s Trading Deadline, the Red Sox and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski are in need of some arms in the bullpen to provide some help. At last year’s deadline, Dombrowski pulled the trigger bringing in relievers Fernando Abad and Brad Ziegler, whom I believe was Dombrowski’s most underrated addition while working for the Red Sox. Furthermore, while the Sox are sitting with the 3rd best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.99, it is clear some help is needed; Joe Kelly has been a rock at the backend, but is now on the shelf. Also, Matt Barnes owns a respectable ERA of 3.26, but has been abysmal on the road with an ungodly mark of 5.87 compared to an elite 0.75 at Fenway. No matter how you slice, the Sox need to bring someone to shore things up. So without further adieu, here are some arms who could wind up in Boston.
Pat Neshek: Philadelphia Phillies All Star sidewinder Pat Neshek would be a perfect fit for the Red Sox. As a sidearm pitcher from my Babe Ruth days, I have a special affinity for guys who rely on deception and command to get outs rather than sheer force and velocity. If you want a comparison to Neshek, look no further than than the aforementioned Ziegler who is a near carbon copy of Neshek. Both pitchers have an unconventional delivery, are roughly the same age, didn’t find success until a later age, and own very similar career ERAs. Neshek’s earned run average in 2017 is a miniscule 1.12, and he owns an excellent 2.76 for his career. Another great aspect about Neshek is his ability to get out lefties. Unlike the starting rotation, the Red Sox bullpen is dominated by right handers like Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel. While Neshek is another righty, left handed batter own a .185 batting average this year vs Neshek, so he is a perfect option to get out hitters from both sides of the plate. Lastly, Neshek would serve as the perfect contrast to the flamethrowers in the pen as his fastball doesn’t top 90 mph. The demand for Neshek should be high, but he is only a rental. I would draw the obvious line at Jason Groome, but would consider dealing 3rd rated prospect Michael Chavis if no other pieces are involved.
Justin Wilson: Tigers hard throwing left hander Justin Wilson is on the Red Sox radar and has no shortage of potential suitors as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported 13 team are pursuing Wilson. A solid reliever throughout his career, the 6’2 Wilson is in the midst of one of his best seasons owning a 2.75 ERA while amassing 55 punch outs in 39.1 innings. Wilson would be a welcome addition to the Red Sox bullpen as a lefty as Fernando Abad is currently the only southpaw in the pen. Additionally, Wilson is arbitration eligible through next season, so he is team controlled for at least a season and a half. Even more enticingly, Wilson’s 2017 salary is only $2.7 million, so he would not push the Red Sox into the no-go zone also known as the luxury tax. Despite Wilson sounding great on paper, he will come at a price. Top prospects Rafael Devers and Jay Groome should be untouchable, but names like Michael Chavis, Sam Travis, and the forgotten Blake Swihart will probably be involved in a package for Wilson.
Addison Reed: Like every other notable arm on the market, Reed is drawing interest from a number of teams. Currently closing games for the New York Mets, Reed has done a noteworthy job filling in for All Star Jeurys Familia. Reed spent 3 seasons as the closer for the White Sox as well, so handling pressure should not be a tremendous issue. On the surface Reed’s numbers look superb sporting a 2.49 ERA with 17 saves. However, like Matt Barnes, Reed has struggled mightily outside the confines of Citi Field with a 4.43 ERA opposed to a stellar 1.01 when pitching in Queens. Reed’s contract expires in the offseason, so he would merely be a rental. In terms of his price, Reed looks to be the cheapest option as Matt Ehalt of North Jersey News reported the Mets are looking for a top 10-15 prospect in return for Reed. To clarify, a top 10 prospect in a given team’s system, not a top 10 overall prospect. If the Red Sox are able to get their hands on Reed for someone outside of their top 5-7 farmhands, they should pull the trigger immediately.
Photo: (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)