Red Sox: Five potential closer options to target in free agency

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Liam Hendriks #16 of the Oakland Athletics reacts to striking out Josh Reddick #22 of the Houston Astros to end the eighth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 07, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Liam Hendriks #16 of the Oakland Athletics reacts to striking out Josh Reddick #22 of the Houston Astros to end the eighth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 07, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox CBO Chaim Bloom
Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Relievers the Red Sox should target in free agency to be their closer.

Upgrading the bullpen will be one of the priority tasks for the Boston Red Sox this offseason and the free-agent market offers several potential solutions.

Boston’s bullpen ranked last in the American League and fourth-worst in the majors this season with a 5.79 ERA. Red Sox relievers were leaned on heavily with a major league-high 278 innings but collectively provided below replacement-level value with a -0.6 fWAR. An over-reliance on an area of weakness isn’t an ideal strategy.

A starting rotation that’s expected to be vastly improved with the return of Eduardo Rodriguez and eventually Chris Sale will help reduce the workload of the relievers. That alone will lead to better results but the Red Sox still have work to do in order to assemble a bullpen worthy of a contender.

It starts at the back end by finding a new closer. The Red Sox shipped Brandon Workman to Philadelphia at the trade deadline, leaving Matt Barnes to hold down the fort in the ninth inning due to a lack of viable alternatives. We have enough evidence over the years that Barnes is not a permanent solution for the closer role. Boston’s front office is trolling us if they expect us to believe they will contend in 2021 without finding a more reliable closer.

A reunion with Workman is possible since he’ll be among the relievers with closing experience on the free-agent market. After watching him fall flat with the Phillies, it’s hard to view him as a reliable option. Workman had a short window of success and the Red Sox sold high. It’s best to move on and look at some of the other available options on the market.

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