Red Sox Rumors: Twins reliever Ryan Pressly drawing interest
By Sean Penney
Minnesota Twins reliever Ryan Pressly is drawing interest from virtually every contender, which must mean the Boston Red Sox are in the mix.
If the Boston Red Sox plan to scout relief pitchers this weekend in advance of the MLB trade deadline they won’t have to look far. They need only to stroll over to the opposing bullpen.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that “virtually every contender” has expressed interest in Minnesota Twins reliever Ryan Pressly.
While the Red Sox were not specifically named, they are a contender with a clear need for a bullpen upgrade. It stands to reason that they are in the mix. The Twins are in town this weekend, offering the chance to see the right-hander in action.
Pressly is having a career year for the Twins. He owns a solid 3.40 ERA, although fielding-independent metrics indicate he’s pitched better than that figure suggests. Pressly has a 2.95 FIP and 2.72 SIERA, which may be a better representation of his production.
His velocity is trending upwards with a career-high average of 96.3 mph on his fastball, per FanGraphs. That may explain why his strikeout rate jumped from a solid strikeout per inning type to an elite 13.0 K/9 this season.
Pressly compliments his fastball with a curve that registers the second-best spin rate in the majors for that pitch, per Statcast. He also features a slider that ranks 17th in spin rate (minimum 100 pitches of each type thrown).
The concern with Pressly is his control. He’s allowing 3.6 BB/9 innings and owns a 3.1 BB/9 rate for his career. He was also plagued by the long ball last year. His 15 home runs were tied for the seventh most allowed by American League relievers last season. Pressly has only coughed up five homers this year for a more palatable 0.9 HR/9 but it’s still a factor to watch out for.
It’s unclear how motivated the Twins are to move Pressly. As Rosenthal notes, increasing interest from contenders has compelled Minnesota to listen to offers. They trail the Cleveland Indians by seven games in the Central division and are 12.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Minnesota isn’t out of the race yet but a few more losses before the deadline could convince them to sell. The Red Sox help control that fate with three more games against the Twins this weekend. If Boston can sweep the remainder of this series they may force the Twins to waive the white flag on this season.
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However, that wouldn’t necessarily mean the Twins will deal Pressly, who has one year of arbitration remaining until hitting free agency after the 2019 season. The Twins could hang on to him if they believe a few tweaks to their roster over the winter could put them back into contention.
The extra year of control does make him more appealing to the Red Sox though. Pressly isn’t a candidate to replace Craig Kimbrel if the closer bolts in free agency after this season. He could be a suitable replacement for Joe Kelly, who the team should let walk if he doesn’t pull out of his current funk to finish strong.
Setting the future aside, the Red Sox need another bullpen arm immediately. Kelly has been a disaster this month with nine earned runs allowed over his last 6 2/3 innings. He went from being the team’s primary setup man to unplayable when the game is remotely close. Matt Barnes is having a fine season yet Thursday’s loss reminds us how unreliable he can be late in a tight game. Tyler Thornburg is still trying to find his 2016 form.
It’s probably not a great sign when the reliever who manager Alex Cora trusts most leading up to Kimbrel is Ryan Brasier. The 26-year old has been outstanding yet has only tossed eight innings in the majors in his first taste of big league action since 2013. His role is increasing but he’s too unproven to rely on in a pennant race.
While he may not be the lock-down setup man the Red Sox were hoping for, Pressly remains one of the top relievers potentially still available on the market. He’s a late-inning upgrade this team desperately needs. Boston will have competition for his services if the Twins do make him available but if they want to keep up with the moves the Yankees are making then Pressly is an option they have to consider.