What is the higher priority – adding another ace starting pitcher or an elite reliever?
Sean: In a vacuum we would have to consider an ace starter as more valuable than any reliever given their significantly higher workload, but that’s not necessarily the case when factoring in the construction of this roster. Boston’s pitching staff led the league in ERA in the second half and they have a strong rotation with David Price, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. We’ve seen the value of elite relievers this postseason and the Red Sox could use a versatile weapon to deploy against the heart of the opposing lineup, which doesn’t necessarily have to be in the 9th inning. Leave Kimbrel in the closer seat and add a shutdown reliever that can be used in a variety of situations instead of the overrated “save situation.”
Brandon: It’s tough to think that an ace starting pitcher would not be more important, as he pitches more innings than the reliever. The Red Sox already have Kimbrel, so they have the elite reliever under contract already. Porcello was leading, in many people’s minds, as the Cy Young Award favorite for the American League with the most wins. One start against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS and all of a sudden people’s minds are changing? That doubt that Porcello isn’t an ace came more from the scars of 2015 than the success of 2016. The Red Sox could use another ace starter, but so could every team. Who wouldn’t want five aces? The reality is that the Red Sox starting pitchers were better this season, rounding into form about half way through the year. The Red Sox need to either keep Uehara and Ziegler or find relievers like them to help the bullpen this offseason. If they don’t, the starters will be handing the ball off to middle relievers who will give up the game before Kimbrel can even see the field.
Rick: Elite relievers in free agency are limited to two and that is Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman. Both will certainly break the fiscal bank and both have employers with as much long green as Boston. So go starter and that means Chris Sale.
Matt: I would like another top of the line starter, but I realize that may not be feasible this offseason. Therefore, they need to model themselves after the Indians this year or the Royals last year – get top of the line middle relief to dominate the 6th/7th/8th innings.
Chance: I think an elite reliever is more important. If Porcello and Wright can come close to doing what they did this year, and if Price can be as efficient as Dave Dombrowski is paying him to be, the starting rotation shouldn’t be a problem.