This offseason will be massive for the Boston Red Sox as they look to improve the bullpen on a budget. Will Smith could be the solution to both equations.
We all know about the budgetary goals the Red Sox have set for themselves going into this winter. The big worry is that they’ll focus so hard on getting below the CBT that they won’t be able to improve the team and will forsake contention for dollars. There aren’t many options on the free-agent board this offseason that could be scooped up for cheap, but Will Smith could do exactly that.
Smith just finished his seventh year in the big leagues having spent his career between Kansas City, Milwaukee, and San Fransisco. With the ownership group trying to do everything in their power to not pay a massive luxury tax penalty for 2020, they need to do some serious money magic. The biggest issue with the Red Sox was the inconsistencies in the bullpen and the fact that caused a select few had to carry most of the workload.
Adding another strong arm like Smith could not only give the tired few a chance at rest but he can also get the job done when called upon. For the 2019 season, Smith finished with 65.1IP/96K/ 21BB as well as a 6-0 record and 2.76 ERA. He also owned a 13.2 K/9 compared to a measly 2.9 BB/9. That’s a hell of a campaign and a guy that could be a massive boost to a depleted Boston bullpen.
His 2.76 ERA would also be the second-lowest in the Red Sox bullpen for 2019 trailing only Brandon Workman’s insane 1.88. Being able to use a barrage of Matt Barnes, Smith, Marcus Walden, and Josh Taylor leading into Workman to close is mouth-watering. He’s also just 30-years-old which is right in the sweet spot for a veteran. Old enough to have experience but not too old that his stuff is out of gas.
Another major reason I feel that Smith could be the guy for the Red Sox is his salary. I’m sure you’re all tired of reading about salary and budgets but sadly that’s going to be life for Boston going forward.
The days of reckless spending feel like they’re over for the foreseeable future. In 2019 Smith earned just over $4.2M, which would be high compared to the projections for Barnes ($3M) and Workman ($3.4M), but with the year he put up it’s a worthwhile investment.
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If Alex Cora wanted to give Workman a night off from closing this would open yet another door for Smith who earned 34 saves for the Giants this past season. I don’t think there would be an issue with having essentially two closers on the roster, especially since it took Boston nearly the entire season to admit they had one.
Workman has earned the right to at least go into spring training as the closer and a competition for the spot with Smith could do wonders for both. Having two guys that are used to closing games out as a one-two punch could cure the blown save ailment that riddled the Red Sox in 2019.
This would allow Cora to structure his relief core as Walden/Taylor for early innings, Barnes for the seventh, and then Smith/Workman for the eighth and ninth. There’s always the chance that Darwinzon Hernandez continues to find his groove which would add another weapon to the arsenal.
We all know that Boston needs some help for the bullpen but their salary restrictions could make that difficult. The Red Sox have very strong arms already on the roster but they were overworked and would become a hindrance in the first half of the season.
Though they were able to become one of the best bullpens after the All-Star break, they’re still vulnerable. If the organization wants to contend as they have said, then they’ll need to spend some money.
Will Smith has been a proven commodity in the last few seasons and could be a major addition to the Red Sox bullpen. He may not be one of the flashiest names on the free-agent market but he’s a hell of a talent and for a reasonable cost. Fixing the pen should be priority number one for Boston this winter and adding Smith to the roster could be a hell of a start.