The Washington Nationals addressed their bullpen in 2019 by trading for Daniel Hudson, the pitcher who eventually got the final out of the World Series. The Red Sox let Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly walk away from an already weak bullpen and then Red Sox management didn’t trade for a reliever. So in October, the Red Sox could watch Hudson get the final out of the World Series.
The Red Sox can’t repeat what happened in 2019. The bullpen must be addressed. There are some options that can come cheap and some are more expensive. To fix the Red Sox bullpen, I believe they need a traditional closer and a depth piece that can slot nicely as a high leverage reliever or set-up man.
For a set-up man, there is one buy-low option with tons of upside and that is Dellin Betances. Now, I know he was a New York Yankee, but signing Betances (and if Aroldis Chapman departs) the Yankees may all of a sudden not have that strong of a bullpen. Now, Betances pitched only 2/3 of an inning in 2019 and spent the rest of the season on the injured list. However, if you look at his 2018 numbers, 156 ERA+, 2.47 FIP, and 15.5 K/9, you realize that Betances’ ceiling is really high.
Betances was going into 2019 trying to put up his best season in order to receive a large contract. Now, he will likely sign a 1-year contract to rebuild his value, similar to Josh Donaldson. The Red Sox may be able to give Betances what he wants, possibly a 1-year and $6-8 million dollar contract. If Betances ends up signing elsewhere, then buy-low options such as Joe Smith and Will Harris are still on the market – both crucial in the Astros run to the World Series.
The Red Sox also need a proven closer to get out of the tough spots. Betances has the potential to become a closer (if signed), but the Red Sox need two arms to make the bullpen truly lethal. Names that stands out are the National’s relief pitchers – Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. Both had strong regular seasons and saved the Nationals in the postseason, with Doolittle posting a 1.74 ERA and Hudson getting the final out of the World Series.
Both are good relievers, but Doolittle may come more expensive because he has a more proven track-record. Hudson would not be the closer on the Red Sox, but could become a high-leverage reliever to go along with Matt Barnes and Darwinzon Hernandez. Overall, Hudson should stand out to the Red Sox in the crowded relief pitching market.