Red Sox 2017 Report Cards: Right-handed reliever Addison Reed
By Sean Penney
Our annual Report Card series evaluates and grades the 2017 season of each member of the Boston Red Sox. Up next – RHP Addison Reed.
The Boston Red Sox approached the trade deadline looking to bolster the back end of their bullpen. While they already had a strong core of relievers that ended up finishing the season with the league’s second-best ERA, the Red Sox needed a reliable setup man to bridge the gap to Craig Kimbrel.
Tyler Thornburg was intended to lock down the eighth inning but the team got nothing out of him after he injured his shoulder in the spring. There was no clear timetable for Carson Smith, who wouldn’t end up making his season debut until September. Joe Kelly was on the disabled list at the trade deadline. Without knowing if they could rely on any of those options down the stretch, trading for a setup man became a top priority.
They found one in former New York Mets closer Addison Reed. He had made 48 appearances for the Mets prior to the trade, tallying 19 saves, a 2.57 ERA and striking out a tick under a batter per inning. He was one of the top setup men in baseball for the Mets the previous year when he posted a 1.97 ERA and 10.5 K/9.
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Unfortunately, that success didn’t quite carry over when he moved to Boston. Reed wasn’t bad by any means, he just wasn’t as dominant as the Red Sox expected him to be.
Reed posted a 3.33 ERA and struck out 28 batters over 29 innings with the Red Sox this season. Those numbers are solid enough but look deeper and there were some red flags.
Nine walks in only 29 innings gave Reed a concerning 3.0 BB/9 rate. A setup man needs to work late in a tight ballgame, where free passes can be disastrous. Worse than that was the five home runs Reed allowed for a panic-inducing 1.7 HR/9 rate. Home runs were a problem for Reed early in the season before he settled down in the months leading up to the trade deadline. The five he allowed in a Red Sox uniform was only one shy of what he surrendered in nearly twice as many innings with the Mets this season.
Reed made three appearances for the Red Sox in the postseason, allowing two runs over 2 1/3 innings. Both runs came in Game 2 of the ALDS, extending the Houston Astros’ lead to a commanding 8-2 margin that Boston never recovered from.
The 28-year old will be a free agent this offseason, which likely ends his tenure with the Red Sox. Since he has the “proven closer” tag that so many teams covet we can expect Reed to seek a new team that can offer him a shot in that role. He clearly isn’t getting that in Boston with Kimbrel around.
Next: Red Sox Gold Glove finalists
With Thornburg expected back next season and Smith presumably available for a full season, there won’t be much pressure on the Red Sox to pay closer money to a setup man who underwhelmed in his brief stint in Boston.