The Red Sox bullpen is not good, but that's nothing new. They've made trade after trade over the past few seasons trying to solidify their pitching in the late innings, but nothing seems to work. From Carson Smith to Tyler Thornburg, whenever the Red Sox try to trade for a reliever to set up closer Craig Kimbrel it always comes back to bite them. Now, it seems like they might be about to do it again.
With the MLB Waiver Trade Deadline at midnight ET tonight, the Red Sox have a number of possible options if they want to make one last desperation move to get another reliever before the MLB playoffs. Two of the most polarizing names available are the Twins' Addison Reed and the Giants' Mark Melancon, both former Red Sox.
The main drawback for both pitchers is their contracts, though Melancon's is significantly worse. Reed is set to make $9 million next season in the 2nd year of a 2-year contract, which is bad, but it's nothing compared to the monsterous $19 million per year that Melancon has left for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The Giants are in a fire sale having already traded Andrew McCuthen to the Yankees and likely would be willing to eat some of the money left on Melancon's deal, but it will still leave a hefty bill for the Red Sox.
Both pitcher's Red Sox careers were less than illustrious. Melancon spent one season with the Red Sox in 2012 in which the team finished in last place and he had an atrocious 6.20 ERA in 41 games with the team. Despite his disastrous year with the Sox, Melancon went on to be one of the most dominant relievers in the game after leaving. Melancon's ERA was under 2.00 for 3 of his next 4 seasons and he finished with 51 saves in 2013. He signed a massive deal with the Giants in 2017, a season in which he was less than stellar, but has relatively bounced back in 2018. Despite that, Melancon is no longer the elite pitcher he was with the Pirates and Nationals and nearly $20 million dollars is too much for the non-contending Giants to pay for a reliever who isn't of that caliber.
Reed's ERA is almost a full 2 runs worse than Melancon's this season and has more of a "been there, done that" feel than Melancon. Reed was traded for by the Red Sox just last season and he didn't have to much success. However, his 3.33 ERA during that time is still miles ahead of what Melancon's average was in Boston. Still, although the Red Sox have already tried and failed with both, Melancon was put in a far worse situation than Reed and could be worth a second look with a contending team and a manager who isn't named Bobby Valentine.
The Red Sox are already well over the tax, so money shouldn't be a huge concern at this point. Nonetheless, paying a questionable relief pitcher $19 million per season is just bad business. If the Red Sox can get San Francisco to eat some of Melancon's contract, he may be their best chance at finding a capable reliever in this market. The question for the Red Sox is whether they should waste more assets and money into their never ending search to solidify their bullpen and whether Melancon's one-year in Boston was a fluke or reality. One thing is for sure: The Red Sox bullpen is the weakest part of the team. Time is running out to fix it and they can't be sure that either of these guys are the answer, but they may be forced to do one of these deals. The only question is which is worse?
Photo: (AP Photo)(AP Photo)