Boston Red Sox Top-5 bullpen trade targets

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Jul 24, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher

Koji Uehara

(19) pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Upgrading the pitching staff will be the top priority for the Boston Red Sox this offseason, but this task extends beyond finding an ace to anchor the rotation. The bullpen needs work too, with only a select few from 2015’s underwhelming core of relievers expected to be a lock to return in a prominent role next year.

The Red Sox need more reliable options that can be deployed late in a close game, including the glorified 9th inning role. Yes, incumbent closer Koji Uehara has been one of the league’s best over the past three years, but the fact remains that he’ll be 41 next season and is coming off a year in which he had to be shut down with an arm injury. While Uehara is still capable of being a key cog in this bullpen, the Red Sox can’t bank on him making it through a full season.

New Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has already hinted at the idea of acquiring another reliever with closing experience. Whether it be to supplant Uehara in order to move him to a role where his workload can be managed more effectively or to give the team an insurance policy in case he goes down again, it’s clear the back end of the bullpen needs help.

We have already discussed some of the potential free agent relievers that could interest the Red Sox. While some of these options have closing experience, they are primarily setup men who happen to have temporarily found themselves in the role out of circumstance. There are no surefire elite closers on that market, but if the Red Sox wish to find one they could always explore the trade market.

Here are a few established closers that the Red Sox should inquire about.