The big names are off the board. The Red Sox still need bullpen help. What are their options? More varied than you might think.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The Boston Red Sox need bullpen help. Cutting edge analysis, I know. But they do. Until Dave Dombrowski trades for another arm, this will continue to be a focus of writers everywhere. Because when Matt Barnes and his 12.3% walk rate is your best non-closer option, and the next best reliever is a few steps behind that, you aren’t ready for October. Every pen has question marks, but the Red Sox have more than most. Or, at least, most of the contenders.
We’ve recently written about Keone Kela and Kelvin Herrera, the two remaining high profile reliever names still on the market. You can read about the Washington Nationals reliever here. And you can read about the Texas Rangers closer here. But what about the less talked about names? The under the radar types that you didn’t see coming? Dave Dombrowski has already shocked Red Sox fans by acquiring Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. Could he do the same here? Below is a list of potential targets that could pop up in rumors over the next few days*.
American League Central arms.
Fernando Rodney – MIN
The Red Sox got an up close and personal look at Rodney the last two nights, for good and for ill. The 41-year-old closer is having a fairly typical season with a 3.49 ERA sitting atop a 3.94 FIP and a 3.83 xFIP. His K/9 has been at 10 or higher the for the last three seasons. But it’s his BB/9, which dropped to 3.49 this year, that is keeping him a relevant option. Of course, he suffers from Matt Barnes disease and will occasionally lose the zone entirely. We saw this on Thursday night when he nearly blew the game by issuing walks to Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt before running the count full to Jackie Bradley Jr. He finished Bradley off with a high fastball to end the game, but the downside was on full display. Rodney has a 2019 club option.
Nate Jones – CWS
Nate Jones has been part of trade rumors involving the Chicago White Sox for a few years. At 32 years old he is likely not going to be part of the next great White Sox team, and they may try to cash in on his value soon. He’s got plenty of it, despite a 5.11 BB/9. With a league minimum team option in 2019 followed by two relatively cheap team options in the next two seasons, he is quite cost controlled. He also has a track record of success. A 2.55 ERA this season may not look great next to a 4.62 FIP and a 4.84 xFIP but he is striking out 9.85 per nine innings. And an ERA in the 2’s stretches back to the start of 2016. Jones has some of the same issues as Matt Barnes, and he will cost some significant prospect capital. So he may not be the most efficient use of resources. But he is one of the few known quantities left on the market and Dombrowski should be plenty familiar with him from his time in the Detroit Tigers front office.
Alex Wilson – DET
Speaking of the Tigers, the Red Sox could seek a prodigal son in Alex Wilson. Wilson spent the first 6 seasons of his professional career as part of the Red Sox organization. He was sent to Detroit as part of the Rick Porcello trade. A reunion would make some sense as he has one more arbitration eligible season left and the Tigers may be happy to convert him to prospects given their ongoing rebuild. Wilson 3.32 ERA with a 2.21 BB/9 but he only strikes out 5.53 per nine innings. He induces ground balls about half the time. While the infield defense is a bit suspect, however, this might not be the best option on the table.
*All stats current as of the morning of July 28.