Red Sox trade target: Jake Diekman
Power arms are all in vogue in baseball.
During the 2014 season 31 pitchers (min 50 IP) averaged 95MPH on their fastball with (no surprise) Aroldis Chapman at the top of the list with a 100.3 and Pedro Strop at position 31 with a 95MPH. To find a Red Sox player you have to wander down to find departed Rubby De La Rosa at position 59 with a clock of 94.0 – just ahead of Junichi Tazawa’s 93.9. Most are relievers.
The Red Sox rotation will be topped by Clay Buchholz and his 91.6 and followed closely by newcomer Wade Miley at 91.2. Rick Porcello checks in at 90.4 and for comparison purposes Clayton Kershaw averaged 93.0, Max Scherzer at 92.8 and Felix Hernandez posted an average of 92.4.
The starters have a measured response and relievers do not. The Kansas City Royals demonstrated that by rolling out a series of bullpen arms that routinely touched a 100MPH. Go an inning and throw hard and hope you stay off the DL and away from TJ surgery.
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The speed vulnerability for the Red Sox is clearly in the bullpen. The Red Sox simply do not have that power arm that can tune up a consistently high 90s for an inning. No Craig Kimbrel or Trevor Rosenthal.
So where do the Sox find the baseball Mr. Good Bar?
The most obvious route is to use the plethora of talent the team current holds and make a swap. The Red Sox have an abundance of valuable talent in the minors and the majors and that means a return to Ruben Amaro and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies have in their possession Jake Diekman who routinely wanders into the high 90s. Diekman is a 28 year-old left-hander who registered 100 K’s in just 71 innings. The downside is a WHIP of 1.42 helped along with 35 walks. Right hand hitters batted .253 against Diekman and lefties came in at .239. Diekman is about as close as the Sox can get to Andrew Miller – even size wise.
Diekman may also be the Phils closer in waiting depending upon Jonathan Papelbon being moved. Diekman is a valuable commodity and potentially an expensive one as the cost factors have spiraled upwards for quality set-up pitchers.
What would it take?
Amaro has been after Blake Swihart and that certainly is not happening. I am sure Amaro would do everything possible to expand a deal into which he could toss Cliff Lee and his 27M remaining on his contract. The Phils need youth. The Red Sox have youth. The Phils farm system is a bit dry and the team is attempting to rebuild.
The Red Sox have a list of players of merit who may be victims of circumstance. Garin Cecchini, Sean Coyle, power hitting Travis Shaw, slick fielding Deven Marrero, and possibly disappointing Jackie Bradley as part of a package.
Amaro may wish to take on a veteran such as Allen Craig as well as a young prospect or two. Like buying a mix and match meal at a fast food joint I am sure Ben Cherington and Amaro could come to a suitable agreement. There is a need for both. And, who knows, maybe Cole Hamels could be part of it. Deals may start small and get expanded.
** Statistics courtesy of fangraphs