When the press find out that a baseball team is willing to part with a player’s services in a trade, it means that player must not be in any of the team’s future plans. Otherwise, said player would be safeguarded. Even if the team’s executive brass felt comfortable trading him, they do not necessarily say anything to the other 29 general managers until they ask first. Not in the case of Boston Red Sox relief Edward Mujica, however.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter that the Red Sox were open to trade talks for the 30-year-old Venezuelan:
That is ‘trade bait’ talk, the sign that general manager Ben Cherington knows that his roster needs more tuning up for the start of spring training. To not wait for the players to report in February means that, on paper, Cherington must see a hole or two that need filling, instead of seeing it in the players’ skill sets in person.
After eight seasons of floating around the two major leagues, Mujica burst through to become an all-star in 2013 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston’s opponents in the World Series. After winning the championship, the Red Sox must have been impressed with seeing his abilities up close, as they brought him into Beantown’s fold as a free agent signing in 2014. Mujica earned eight saves, striking out 43 and walking only 14 of the 253 batters he faced in 60 innings of relief.
For a middle reliever, although giving up a batting average of .294 and a .460 slugging percentage to opponents is not necessarily horrendous, it could also explain a few things. Mujica threw for a 3.90 ERA, meaning the other teams could get to him for runs. When teams like the Red Sox were struggling to shut offences down until their own offence could catch up, they do not want to see their relief pitchers getting hit that hard. His body of work suggests that he has talent, but he may not be enough to help fix the Red Sox’ bullpen woes. The closer Koji Uehara is turning 40 in April, and the rest of the bullpen is not ready to take over the reigns if he decides to retire at any point. Mujica likely is not in Cherington’s plans to replace Koji for the position, hence the desire for a trade.
The attraction for other clubs wanting to trade for Mujica is his numbers after the All-Star Game. Opponents only hit .258 against him, while earning a 1.78 ERA in just over 25 innings. The most promising statistic was his six saves in six opportunities. Mujica got the job done, even if not in dominating style, with 15 strikeouts to six walks.
The question is who he went up against. The top four batters in opponents’ lineups hit a combined .337 against him, not a reassuring number for a team needing their closer to shut the door against top talent in crucial situations. If teams want to make Mujica part of a packaged deal, Cherington has cause to make the trade, if the deal makes sense. It will be interesting to see which teams decide to take the Red Sox up on the offer, as nobody will likely give up a top reliever for a decent one, unless a top position player will be involved. Boston’s log jam of outfielders, infielders, and catchers suggests that it could be a possibility. This news must be in hopes of landing either an ace with a big contract or a strong bullpen presence. Either way, stay tuned before spring training, as this is likely not the last we hear about Mujica’s future in the next few days.
** All statistics for Mujica were found at the following link: