It’s safe to say that Andrew Bailey‘s first impression in 2012 wasn’t the best. In fact it was forgettable. It was so bad that GM Ben Cherington went out and traded for then Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan. Manager John Farrell would follow the news of the deal by declaring that Hanrahan has supplanted Bailey as the go-to ninth inning man come Opening Day. All this bad news for Bailey has left a popular belief that he’ll be dealt some time during spring training. Here’s a case for holding onto Bailey.
1. By the looks of Josh Reddick‘s 2012 home run output and the steady rise of Miles Head, the Red Sox appeared to have sold high for Bailey’s services. Even if another club were to be without their closer for a specific period of time, it’s very unlikely the Red Sox would receive a return similar to the package they originally gave up. Long story short: Never sell low.
2. There’s no guarantee that Joel Hanrahan will be a lights-out closer in the AL East. His 2012 numbers for Pittsburgh were rather pedestrian, hence why the Red Sox were able to get him for a relatively low cost (no offense to Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, Ivan DeJesus, or Jerry Sands fans). If Hanrahan falters, Bailey has a chance to reclaim the closer’s role.
3. Even if Hanrahan doesn’t falter, Bailey can spend 2013 reestablishing his value. With two seasons of control left, the Red Sox could A. Deal Bailey at the July 31st deadline or in the 2013-2014 offseason or B. Attempt for a double jackpot by hoping Hanrahan leaves as a qualifying offer-eligible free agent after 2013 and Bailey repeats sequence in 2014.
4. You can never have enough pitching. Of course there will be exceptions to this rule for this year’s spring training. There are currently ten relievers competing for seven spots in the bullpen. At least one or two guys will be cut or traded by the time spring training concludes (barring injury of course). Bailey’s track record should secure him a spot if he has a good spring. In addition to that, he’s been nothing but professional in the aftermath of his demotion. After the most recent Alfredo Aceves incident, professionalism is an intangible that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
A lot can still happen between now and the end of spring training. But unless an overwhelming package is offered (ex: St. Louis offering top OF prospect Oscar Taveras or pitching prospect Shelby Miller), Andrew Bailey should remain with the Red Sox for at least the first half of 2013. Here’s hoping he reminds us why the club traded for him in the first place (with holds in the place of saves).