Look for a Red Sox shutout on their impending free agents

BOSTON, MA - MAY 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Fenway Park on May 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 18: Drew Pomeranz #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Fenway Park on May 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have three soon to be free agents who are pitchers. Just what is the risk involved in signing each at market rate?

What does the future hold for the Red Sox? What down the road decisions will be addressed? No doubt management plans ahead both short-term and long-term. The Red Sox have three pitching variety free agents who will be working towards various degrees of financial reward depending upon their performance, market value, needs, and health. What will the Red Sox do?

Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, and Drew Pomeranz will get offers and will most certainly not get a qualifying offer from the Red Sox. The potential qualifying offer could approach $19 MM and none classify in that robust atmosphere. Kimbrel is close, but not that close.

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The Red Sox could enter into any bidding wars – if they surface – and make the proverbial offer that cannot be refused – noted as a boatload of money. What will happen is a testing of the waters for each to see what the market holds. But limited projections can be made. The Red Sox are simply letting the clock tick away on all three and I presume will pass on all three. And that’s good.

Pomeranz has done nothing this season, but still has another near half season to attempt to rebuild his quickly shrinking market value. This season Pomeranz is on the books for $8.5 MM and will undoubtedly be searching the baseball landscape for a long-term deal. Pitching being what it is, someone will bite. Just let it not be Boston.

Kelly started the season with a remarkable string of bullpen successes and that was magnified by Kelly’s pugilistic encounter with New York.  “Fighting Joe,” though I tend to think more in terms of “Walking Joe,” with a 4.1 BB/9 in his Boston career. Kelly’s earned run average has incrementally increased as the summer temperature has.

Kelly will be looking for more dough than his current $3.85 MM and will get it unless his elbow (or his pitches) gets shredded. Kelly can set up and even close, but not in the rarefied air of the élite. June has not been kind to Kelly (8.31 ERA). But maybe he’ll get invigorated as he smells the potential greenbacks that await.

Kimbrel will no doubt want an Aldoris Chapman type contract and would certainly get it if he pitched like Chapman. Kimbrel’s heater is down a shade and his 3.5 BB/9 is not what you want from a closer – especially at $13 MM. I will not dismiss Kimbrel as he is still one of the best, but why do I just think about Kenley Jansen when I look at the stats? I’ll pass on Kimbrel.

Watching the threesome vanish elsewhere means finding viable replacements.  Pomeranz is the most easily dispensable based on how the rotation has functioned in his absence. Just maybe Jalen Beeks can live up to his promise and provide quality starts?  Steven Wright may also be ready to go as long as his injury Du Jour vanishes. Brian Johnson is still hanging around as is Hector Velazquez. A goodbye wave to Pomeranz will not crush my spirit.

Kelly may be the most signable of the three. Kelly has actually come to realize at 30-years-old that his baseball legacy awaits from the bullpen and not the rotation.  Kelly is good and at times very good and I do suspect the Red Sox will make an effort to sign Kelly and not place the inconsistent Heath Hembree, scary Matt Barnes or barely tested Bobby Poyner in Kelly’s role.

Baseball needs a closer because, well, that is what baseball has been doing for the last few decades by redefining the role to three key outs in the ninth.  The real hinge on this is Tyler Thornburg who has closed in the past, but Thornburg may be damaged goods. Much will depend on just how he performs the last few months.

The Carson Smith injury took another potential piece off the closer board. And just as Smith was starting to finally pay pitching dividends. But looking at pending free agents. The top of the food chain is Kelvin Herrera. Herrera is similar in style to Kimbrel and may just represent a sideways fiscal move.

I have enough Mets buddies who would rather toil in a salt mine than watch Jeurys Familia close, but, hey – if you can save a few bucks it might be a go. Zach Britton is also available and Britton is also of very questionable pitching health.  When Britton is “on” he is just about as good as it gets. A one year deal? Might work.

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Kimbrel is a re-signing risk with his age and a possible tick or slide downward with his “stuff.”  If this was the Kimbrel of 2017 season it would be a far different story – just sign him. But it is not. I would look elsewhere unless market conditions of lowering money and contract length surface.