Shipping Up to Boston?
After spending over a month on the DL with a hip problem, Mike Lowell has finished his rehab stint and is ready to return, but will he return in a Red Sox uniform? As I write this post we are just a day and a half away from the 4pm Saturday MLB trade deadline, leaving many questions still out there. With the Sox looking to acquire a top tier reliever and the price rising daily for that type of talent, will a substantial deal actually be completed in time? I certainly can’t predict the future, but let’s look at some of names that have been tossed around in the rumor mill.
Before diving into some potential additions, it is worth noting that the Sox have been eerily quiet so far regarding trades. Although it is not unusual for Theo to pull out a big deal just hours or minutes before the 4pm deadline tomorrow, it seems to be even quieter than normal this year. If we can look to past year’s as a guide for 2010, we may see a big move late, but likely nothing near recent history with the Nomar/Orlando Cabrera or the Manny Ramirez/Jason Bay 3-way deals within the last half a dozen years.
RP Trevor Hoffman
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Sox have apparently contacted the Milwaukee Brewers about acquiring the 42-year old closer. There is no arguing with Hoffman’s 596 career saves in 17 years in the big leagues, but are the Sox willing to give up a prospect or 2 for a 2 month loaner? Given the high price in the market for top notch relievers, the Sox should go after a younger arm that can be locked up for another year or 2 and give the team proper return for their prospects. Hoffman is only 5 for 10 in save opportunities this season, but apparently sparked the Sox interest because he has been pitching well as of late, allowing just 3 earned runs in his last 16 outings. Hoffman’s role would be as a 7th or 8th inning set-up man, but I’m not sure he is worth the price of admission.
RP Leo Nunez
This is one name on the list that excites me a great deal. Leo Nunez is a talented, young closer for the Florida Marlins, who is likely to never blossom into a top tier, shut-down closer. He has great stuff however, and has completed 24 or 29 save opportunities in 2010, holding an impressive 2.74 era. Nunez is just shy of his 27th birthday and although he is only signed through 2010, would probably be open to an extension and become a staple set-up, late inning guy in the Sox bullpen. I believe Nunez has not yet reached his potential and under the tutelage of John Farrell, could be an elite set-up man in the future. Because of his age and the impressive 2010 campaign he is having, his price will likely be the highest of the relievers mentioned, but he also has the biggest upside for this season and beyond.
RP David Aardsma
Oh brother, not this again. The Sox experimented with David Aardsma in 2008 and he had an era of 5.55 in 47 games, allowing 30 earned runs and failing in his one save opportunity. I understand Aardsma had a strong 2009 campaign, saving 38 of 42 ball games and finishing with a 2.52 era, but it was a fluke season. In 2010, Aardsma is back to his usual ways, with an 0-6 record and an era of 4.59. He has 18 saves in 22 chances on the year, but just scares the crap out of me when he is on the mound. The feeling for the Sox is that they could move him into a middle relief role with less pressure on him and use him in the 7th inning to keep the score at bay. I don’t know how many different ways I can say that this would be a waste of prospects for the Sox, but I’m sure he is still on Theo’s radar over the 24-26 hours.
RP Joe Thatcher
This guy is someone who has flown under the radar in 2010, but deserves to get some serious credit for the San Diego Padres success. Thatcher is a shut-down lefty reliever, who in 33 games this year has a 1.66 era, allowing just 4 earned runs in 21.1 innings and has allowed a .141 opponent batting average. Next to Leo Nunez, this kid is one of my favorites, and given the Sox’ connection with the Padres GM Jed Hoyer (former Red Sox front office guy), it is more likely this trade could happen. Thatcher is making peanuts this year ($412,000), but like Nunez, could be a candidate to lock-up for the next few years to strengthen the Sox bullpen. Given that he is a 28-year old lefty, his value will be high and the Sox will likely have to send a few prospects to San Diego.
Here are a collection of other names that have been thrown around, but unless the price is right, I doubt we will see any of these guys on the Sox roster next week.
RP Mike Gonzalez, LHP (BAL) – 0-2, 6.75 era, 1/3 in save opportunities
RP Will Ohman, LHP (BAL) – 0-0, 3.41 era, 50 appearances
RP Rafael Perez, LHP (CLE) – 3-0, 3.35 era, 45 appearances
RP Kerry Wood, RHP (CLE) – 1-4, 6.30 era, 8/11 in save opportunities
RP Kyle Farnsworth, RHP (KC) – 3-0, 2.27 era, .230 opponent batting average
RP Michael Wuertz, RHP (OAK) – 2-0, 5.01 era, 3/3 in save opportunities