Red Sox bargain reliever
The Red Sox desperately need a boost to their underwhelming bullpen and that starts with finding a new closer, a role they never suitably filled following the trade that sent Brandon Workman to the Phillies.
The volatility of relievers often makes them poor investments. With plenty of positions to address this offseason, Boston probably won’t sink a significant portion of their budget into an elite closer like Liam Hendriks. Instead, they should target multiple lower-cost relievers with high upside.
Kirby Yates fits the bill following a lost season in which he allowed six earned runs in only 4 1/3 innings. Elbow inflammation sidelined Yates for most of the season and he had surgery to remove bone chips. The procedure was relatively minor so Yates should be expected to be healthy by the beginning of next season.
Injuries and inconsistency plagued Yates early in his career but everything finally clicked for the late-bloomer when he went to San Diego. Yates posted a 2.14 ERA and 12.9 K/9 in his breakout 2018 season. He followed that with a sparkling 1.19 ERA and an elite 15.0 K/9 in 2019 while leading the NL with 41 saves and finishing ninth on the Cy Young ballot.
Yates would be challenging Hendriks for the biggest contract for a reliever this winter if he had produced those types of numbers this season but a dismal year derailed by injury will keep his cost in check. He’s projected for a 1-year, $5 million deal that would make him a tremendous bargain as long as he’s healthy.