The solution for the Red Sox bullpen could be a former starter

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 21: Starter Clay Buchholz
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 21: Starter Clay Buchholz /

As each day goes by in this free agent period the Red Sox are losing out on the pieces they need for the 2019 season. With their desired options signing elsewhere, could they look to a former star to solve their bullpen woes?

Another day has passed in the offseason and another desired target for the Red Sox has signed elsewhere. First, it was Andrew Miller, a former Boston reliever and bullpen strongman had signed with St. Louis. Later that day, Red Sox World Series hero  “Fighting” Joe Kelly packed up and took his talents to Hollywood.

Two pieces that Dave Dombrowski had his eyes on felt they had better offers with the other clubs. And it was reported by Mark Feinsand of earlier this afternoon that David Robertson has signed a deal with the Phillies. Another day, another target off the board.

So where do the Red Sox go from here? There aren’t many options left on the board and time isn’t on their side. The other big name that has been rumored to be desired by Boston is Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino. But with the way things have gone so far this offseason, I’m not optimistic that Dombrowski will pull the trigger.

The Red Sox are in between a rock and a hard place. Not only do they need to fill the gaps that will allow them to successfully defend their crown, but they have to look long term. Money isn’t an unlimited resource and Boston knows all too well the punishment for spending it without regard. SO with current issues needing to be solved and future big name free agents coming up fast, they need to be smart with money.

This is why I’m pleased that they are staying firm on their ground of not breaking the bank for Craig Kimbrel. The former Red Sox closer is asking not only for too much money but too many years. As great as he has been during his career, this past season showed some cracks in the armor of the fireballer.

So with money being a major concern for the Red Sox as well as needing to make some sort of move to appease the Fenway Faithful, what can be the middle ground? Looking at the free agent market a name popped out to me in a similar fashion as when I looked at the replacement for second base. A pitcher that the Red Sox are all too familiar with is sitting on the board and can be signed for cheap. Clay Buchholz.

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I can hear all the collective sighs as you all read that name but hear me out. We don’t need him to pitch 7 innings a game or throw 100 pitches, we just need him to eat up an inning or two a couple times a week. That’s not asking much and with the state of his career, this could be a win-win. We can get a pitcher familiar with the city and fandom and can handle the pressure of Boston.

After being traded away from Boston in 2016 Clay has bounced between free agency and short stints with multiple teams. Making his debut in 2007, Buchholz is now coming in on his 13th season, and now may be the time to bring him home. I can’t begin to know how Clay looks at his career or when/if he’d like to hang ’em up, but it would be poetic to get one more run at home.

After a rough couple of season, Clay bounced back in 2018 posting a 7-2 record with a 2.01 ERA in 98.1 innings. He also had an impressing 88-23 K-BB ration. Not bad for a guy who’s been struggling the last few years. Just look at his 2017 stats, 0-1 12.27 ERA in just 7.1 innings. 2018 posed a far better year and what must be a major confidence boost for Buchholz.

My big worry with Clay is his health, his frame never seemed to lend itself to a career built on durability. But here we are, 13 years later. It always seemed during his first run with Boston that he at any moment could snap in half. But it looks as if he may have figured it out as he has lasted longer than I ever thought he would.

If Dombrowski is looking for someone to aid in the bullpen, Buchholz may be that guy. Plus the Red Sox could work up a good old fashioned home cooked deal to sway him into returning to the franchise that gave him his break. Clay has the big game experience from his previous Red Sox run in the 2013 World Series. So he’d be more than comfortable come October when the lights shine the brightest.

Next. David Robertson signs with Phillies. dark

If the front office continues to wait or in the case of Kelly, makes poor offers, they’ll find themselves on the outside looking in. Or in the worst case scenario feel pressured to make an offer and spend far more than they can actually afford to do. With big names coming due in the next few waves of free agency, the Red Sox need to make some bargain signings and this could be one that pays in dividends.