Resign Craig Kimbrel and/or acquire another reliever
The good news is that Craig Kimbrel wants to remain in Boston. Kimbrel said in July, “I’ve loved my last three years here. The city’s provided me and my family a lot. And we’re very grateful for that. And we’d love to stay.”
However, the bad news is he may be out of Boston’s price range. Kimbrel will likely look for a decent increase in salary entering next season. He earned $13 million this season but will likely look for north of $16 million this offseason based on the market for relievers. Last offseason, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got a 5-year $80 million contract. However, I would be surprised if Boston went that long. I expect that Kimbrel will look for a deal similar to that of Wade Davis who got $52 million over three years.
That being said, Boston could go a different route. For instance, the Red Sox could turn to the free agent market to find a reliever. Boston has options for next season. They could promote either Tyler Thornburg or Matt Barnes to the closer role. Barnes has a tremendous arsenal and has steadily improved since becoming a permanent member of the Red Sox bullpen in 2016. Thornburg, on the other hand, has experience as a closer as he closed for the Milwaukee Brewers before the Red Sox acquired him prior to the 2017 season.
If Boston goes this route, then they would free up money to go after other relief arms. The first that comes to mind for me is a reunion with Andrew Miller who is set to hit the market. Boston was the team that made Miller a full-time reliever in 2012 and he checks of two boxes as both an ace reliever and a lefty, a piece that has been largely vacant from the Red Sox bullpen this season.
Finally, Boston needs to decide what it wants to do with Joe Kelly. The enigmatic reliever seems like someone who Boston should strongly consider resigning but will likely draw a good amount of interest across the league.