Reliever Options Offered Contracts
There was a lot of chatter over the last 24 hours from the Winter Meetings surrounding the Boston Red Sox. The Sox are reportedly interested in a potential Carlos Beltran trade and signing Russell Martin, but the focus is on beefing up the bullpen. Theo said this evening that there are several offers on the table for relievers including both lefties and righties. The Sox are likely looking to add 2 arms in the pen, 1 hopefully being a lefty. Right now, the Sox do have lefty Felix Doubront slotted for the ‘pen, but would like to at least carry 2 in order to match-up with the lefty heavy AL East lineups, specifically the New York Yankees. The Sox have their eyes on lefties Brian Fuentes, Scott Downs and Arthur Rhodes and on righties Kevin Gregg, Matt Guerrier and Taylor Buchholz, to name a few.
When thinking about the possible contracts offered by the Sox, I would venture to guess that Arthur Rhodes, Brian Fuentes and Kevin Gregg are at the top of the list. Brian Fuentes has been mentioned by sources close to the Sox as a potential option and a report today said that Arthur Rhodes had spoken with the Red Sox. On the right-handed side of the spectrum, Kevin Gregg is a likely candidate that would fit the Sox ‘pen well. All three of these guys could be late-inning guys allowing the Sox to match-up with an opposing lineup even in the 7th and 8th innings with Jonathan Papelbon for the 9th. A bolstered bullpen would take the pressure off the starters to constantly go deeper in games than maybe they should, something we saw more of in 2010 than I wish to remember.
Scott Downs, Matt Guerrier and Taylor Buchholz are certainly still options, although I think Scott Downs may be the least likely choice. In terms of talent, Downs is a top lefty match-up guy, but he is the only type A free agent and if there is one thing the Sox hate to do, it is give up a draft pick to sign a player. Matt Guerrier has spent all 7 years of his career in Minnesota with the Twins and has been a workhorse, pitching in 73+ games the past 4 years. He would fit the Sox mold well and at age 32, has experience, could spend a few years as a middle-reliever in Boston. The final name is Taylor Buchholz, who the Sox acquired earlier this off-season, only to waive him shortly after. The Sox clearly have some interest in him and would likely be able to sign him cheaply as a middle game guy.
Since Theo confirmed that he had offered several players deals, I would expect to see the Sox sign at least 1 arm, if not 2, before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday. Most GM’s believe the time-frame for deals will be shorter this year due to the change in dates for the meetings, so the flurry of activity will likely be fast and furious this next week or two. Also, the fact that the Sox made a blockbuster trade and Jayson Werth signed a big deal already is putting pressure on teams to raise prices and jump to lock up remaining free agents. Now is the time to be aggressive and it appears Theo knows that better than anyone.