Red Sox have trade options with Hector Velazquez, Brian Johnson
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox are in the fortunate situation of having rotation depth. But depth also offers an opportunity for trades and that is always possible with Dave Dombrowski.
Sitting on the outside and looking in is not what pitchers who have honed their skills as starters wish to do, but, unfortunately, circumstances have a nasty way of doing just that. Both right-hander Hector Velazquez and left-hander Brian Johnson are faced with that situation. Both now get pitching crumbs.
The situation for both is simply a pitching logjam within the rotation. The Red Sox have talent and depth and that talent certainly has a performance record that will keep both Velazquez and Johnson on the sidelines – maybe.
Injuries happen and the two that recently returned to the rotation – Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz – both have far too much experience with rehab. Pomeranz has made two starts and neither were disastrous nor were they a vision of Clayton Kershaw. In fact, Pomeranz may be the one most likely on a short pitching leash despite a 17-6 record n 2017. The old what have you done for me lately?
Velazquez and Johnson are intriguing as neither will bend knees with exotic curves or a pull the string change-up. Expect no stunning 100+ MPH on the radar gun or even close to that. Occasionally both may approach the mid-90s, but maybe the gun needs adjustment when that happens.
Both are pitchers who rely on moving the ball around, offering a variety of pitches, some deception in delivery, and keeping your team in the game. Neither will ever be considered a top or even middle of the rotation starter, but both are best defined as “gamers” who can certainly match up favorably with most of the flotsam that teams have in the fourth and fifth slot in their rotations.
For a choice between either, I would take Velazquez. Velazquez is certainly a pitch to contact with a 2018 figure of 9.9 H/9 and a 5.4 K/9 rate. The Mexican League veteran – and that is a tough league – realizes the significance of keeping the bases as pristine as possible with a 1.8 BB/9. A high hit and walk total is a nice recipe for a return to the bushes.
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Johnson has certainly paid his baseball dues as the former number one pick has an injury history and some emotional issues. Johnson also has a rather negative history with walks and this season the 4.2 BB/9 stands out. Nothing new, but Johnson also has a 9.7 K/9 in the very small 13 inning sample.
Both have received starts and both have done well. Johnson pitched a strong six innings allowing only an earned run. Velazquez has been blessed twice with starts and has won both. Both have performed well in extended relief appearances and that is the ultimate bullpen rescue.
Johnson is out of options and most certainly would be grabbed and grabbed quickly by another club. The Red Sox are also”lefty heavy” and that can be an issue. So – do you move one? Do you hold knowing the inevitable injuries will happen? And don’t forget the possibility of a returning Steven Wright.
The Red Sox have some chips and that means pitching chips and the rusting away Blake Swihart. Do the Red Sox look to trade free agent to be Pomeranz? Do they put together a tempting package of pitching and possibly a position player to entice another team?
There are many options and I am of the club that says the Red Sox and Dave Dombrowski will make a move. What it will be I will leave to others, but I am almost certain you will see a trade of significance.