Free Agent Friday: Red Sox relief pitching options

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As we head into our off-season coverage here at Bosox Injection, we will be premiering a number of new features. To go along with our cool staff writer round tables, we also debuted our Free Agent Friday series last week. Free Agent Fridays take a look at positions of need for the 2015 Boston Red Sox and examine the free agency pool for potential fits to suit those areas of weakness. Last week kicked things off with a look at the available third basemen so we don’t have to rely on Will Middlebrooks again.

Sep 19, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (55) celebrates with pitcher Edward Mujica (54) after a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Red Sox won 5-3 in ten inning. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

This week I’m jumping into bthe 2015 free agent relievers; after putting together a dominant group that played an underrated role in a World Series run, the 2014 follow-up product left a lot to be desired. Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Edward Mujica each put together a half a season’s worth of success, while Burke Badenhop was quietly effective and Andrew Miller dominated before his eventual trade to the Orioles (in return for a really promising young pitcher). Craig Breslow really disappointed and the team ultimately had to turn to its promising youngsters when its veteran group faltered.

Before I get started, I want to mention the efficacy of Tommy Layne down the stretch. The

Jul 30, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brandon Workman (67) walks off the mound after pitching during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

29-year old rookie did not come up on my radar, he has little upside to speak of, but looked good in spring training and cruised through September with the big league team. Drake Britton and Matt Barnes also showed promise in limited time, and while they may need a little more fine tuning in Triple A, Brandon Workman has learned all he can at Triple A and barring his inclusion in a trade will likely represent Tommy Layne’s right handed counterpart in the middle innings. It also would be a great thing to have Badenhop back next year but I haven’t included him in my rankings.

Finally, I just want to clarify something. I don’t want the team to sign one of the big name closers this offseason. Yes that includes Koji. Closers are volatile animals, and are quite risky given the money they cost. Instead I would like to see the team try to replicate what made 2013 so special; it won’t be easy but if the team can find a diamond in the rough among the relief pitching options, they could save themselves money to spend elsewhere (or even take a quantity over quality approach). In my scenario, the team would likely give Tazawa or Mujica the job to start the year, and if they struggle (as Andrew Bailey did in 2013), then we could hand it off to the next guy in line.