Red Sox Rumors: Alex Colome would fill a void in the closer role
The Boston Red Sox are interested in free-agent closer Alex Colome
If the Boston Red Sox intend to climb out of the basement and back into contention, improving a bullpen that ranked as the forth-worst in the majors in ERA and fWAR will be essential. The upgrades must begin at the end by filling the ninth inning void with a new closer.
Following the trade deadline deal that shipped Brandon Workman to Philadelphia, Boston relied primarily on Matt Barnes in the closer role. We have plenty of evidence over the years that Barnes, who has converted fewer than half of his career save opportunities, isn’t the answer.
Expect the Red Sox to be active in a free-agent market saturated with relievers capable of handling the ninth inning. According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, one option on their radar is Alex Colome.
It’s interesting to note that the four teams mentioned as having interest in Colome all have ties to the right-hander. There are certainly other teams that could use a bullpen boost so this report might suggest that Colome values having a connection to the organization he intends to sign with. That potentially gives the Red Sox an advantage over some suitors since chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has quite a bit of familiarity with Colome from their days together in Tampa Bay.
Colme is coming off an excellent season in which he posted a minuscule 0.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP while converting 12 of 13 save opportunities for the Chicago White Sox.
He’s not an overpowering pitcher but he was striking out over a batter per inning as recently as 2018. That strikeout rate has steadily declined to an underwhelming 6.4 K/9 last season. He should be able to bump that rate back up a bit in a larger sample size but he doesn’t necessarily need to considering his track record of success with a below-average strikeout rate.
A significant factor to his success without piling up strikeouts comes from limiting hard contact. Colome limited hitters to a career-best 32.8 Hard Hit percentage and he was in the top five percent of the league in limiting Barrels. Colome didn’t allow a home run in 22 1/3 innings last season and he historically has kept the ball in the park with a 0.8 HR/9 for his career.
A 32-year-old reliever who doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the modern closer might not command the high salary of other top options on the market. MLB Trade Rumors projected Colome for a one-year, $6 million deal, a modest figure that fits easily into Boston’s budget without tying them to a long-term contract at a position that tends to be volatile.
Colome has notched 138 saves in his career while converting opportunities at a respectable 85.7 percent rate. He was an All-Star in 2016 when he ascended to the closer spot with the Rays and he led the league with 47 saves the following year.
Bloom is well aware of Colome’s ability to lock down the ninth inning and he must realize that his roster currently doesn’t have another proven option. The Red Sox are trolling their fans if they claim to be contending next year without upgrading at the closer position. Colome offers a solid mix of a safe floor, strong upside and a reasonable price.