Red Sox Rumors: Phillies interested in closer Brandon Workman

Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Red Sox closer Brandon Workman is gaining interest in trade talks.

The last-place Boston Red Sox need to think about selling as the trade deadline rapidly approaches and one of the few expendable assets they can offer who might bring back a solid return is closer Brandon Workman.

One potential destination is the team that Workman notched his most recent save against. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Philadelphia Phillies have spoken to the Red Sox about their closer.

Workman had a breakout year in 2019, earning 10 wins out of the bullpen while posting a 1.88 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 13.1 K/9. He led the majors with a .123 batting average against (minimum 15 innings pitched).

The Red Sox went with a closer-by-committee approach in the wake of Craig Kimbrel’s free agency departure. When that clearly wasn’t working, Workman was handed the reigns in the second half of the season and he thrived in the role with 16 saves.

The results haven’t been as appealing to begin this season. Workman enters the day with a 4.05 ERA, 1.80 WHIP and 10.8 K/9.

Context is important when evaluating Workman’s production due to the small sample size. The Red Sox haven’t provided their closer with many save situations but he’s converted all four opportunities.

Workman has allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Two of those runs came at the end of a blowout loss to the New York Yankees. Boston put him in the game because he hadn’t worked in a week. It’s understandable why he would be rusty and the adrenaline rush that comes with being a closer clearly wasn’t there in a lopsided game.

Prior to that letdown in the Bronx, Workman’s 1.80 ERA was nearly identical to last year. His successful save against the Phillies in his next appearance showed he’s back on track. Philadelphia got a good look at Workman in their recent series with the Red Sox and they clearly liked what they saw.

Philadelphia enters the day with a disappointing 9-12 record but they are only three games out of an NL East division that appears to be up for grabs. Improving a bullpen that ranks dead last in the majors with an 8.07 ERA is a necessity for the Phillies to stay in the race.

The Phillies have been using Hector Neris as their closer. He was solid last year with a 2.93 ERA and 28 saves but he’s struggled out of the gate this year with a 6.75 ERA. Workman could step in to secure the ninth inning if they have lost faith in Neris.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury confirmed that active talks between the two clubs are underway and that multiple players could be involved.

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It’s unclear if that means the Red Sox would be getting multiple players and/or prospects in return for Workman or if the Red Sox are sending other veterans to Philadelphia along with their closer. Mitch Moreland, Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr. are among the veterans who aren’t locked up long term and could be deemed expendable.

If the Red Sox are selling, Workman is the most obvious candidate to be moved. Contending teams always need bullpen help and a closer is much more valuable to them then Workman is to a floundering Red Sox team. Workman will hit free agency after the season so there’s really no reason to hang on to him with no word of extension talks in the works.

The Red Sox will need a closer if they intend to compete next year. They will probably search the free-agent and trade markets for a replacement after this season, although bringing Workman back next year could be an option even if he’s traded at the deadline.

Boston can also use the remainder of this year to hold tryouts for the role to evaluate if they already have a viable candidate in house. That may seem unlikely given the poor state of this pitching staff but the recently activated Darwinzon Hernandez stands out as an option with the stuff to thrive as a closer.

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Trade talks are heating up and with the deadline less than two weeks away, the wheeling and dealing could happen quickly. Expect the Red Sox to be active at the deadline as they aim to build for the future.