The Boston Red Sox may be in the market for another left-handed reliever to bolster their vastly improved bullpen.
The Boston Red Sox have already made some drastic upgrades to a bullpen that was among the worst in the league last year, but they may not be done yet.
The back end of the bullpen is loaded following the additions of Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith, who will join Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa as the primary arms called upon in the later innings. The fearsome four has the potential to give Boston one of the game’s strongest bullpens, but the one criticism you can find with that group is that they are all right-handed. At the moment the only lefty reliever that seems to be a lock to make the Opening Day roster is Robbie Ross.
The 35-year old Cotts produced a modest 3.41 ERA last season in time split between the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins. His career splits show that he’s hardly a lefty specialist, with nearly identical numbers against hitters from both sides of the plate. The .729 OPS allowed to left-handed hitters is actually a tick higher than the .727 OPS he has given up to right-handers.
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The 30-year old Morales enjoyed a bounce back campaign with the World Series champion Kansas City Royals last season after imploding with the Colorado Rockies, who used him both as a starter and reliever. Prior to that he spent three seasons in Boston, where he produced a 3.89 ERA. Most of his time with the Red Sox was served in the bullpen, but he did make 10 starts during his last stint with the team. Boston’s interest in him now would seem to be exclusively as a reliever, with their familiarity perhaps playing a part in him being considered. Morales would give the team a weapon against lefties, as he held them to a .192 average last season.
The top relievers at the back end of the bullpen are capable of dominating against hitters no matter what side of the plate they are on, but it would still be wise to consider adding another lefty to their core of relievers. If the Red Sox decide to pass on one of these over 30 veterans then they could look internally to Tommy Layne, who was hammered by right-handed hitters last year but held lefties to a .148 average and .418 OPS. They also have Roenis Elias as another left-handed option that has been more productive against lefty hitters.
As strong as the Red Sox bullpen is at the top, the final reliever spots on the roster remain unsettled. If the team doesn’t trust a young player like Layne or the newly acquired Elias then kicking the tires on a veteran makes sense as a potential option.