The Boston Red Sox, after a horrible start, are still in contention as the 31st July trade deadline approaches.
As we knew at the start of the season, the Red Sox’s bullpen is a glaring weakness. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly departed in the offseason, leaving Alex Cora with a sub-standard relief corps for a playoff push.
Only the New York Mets has blown more saves than the Red Sox in 2019. Boston’s bullpen crumbled in the London Series – it’s something they need to address sooner rather than later if they are to return to the postseason.
Here are four cheap options to improve the Red Sox’s bullpen…
The Orioles aren’t under pressure to trade Givens, who isn’t set to become a free agent until 2022. Baltimore are in a deep rebuild, though, and should at least be considering trade offers for the 2009 second round pick.
Givens’ 34.3 K% is in the top 6% of the Majors, but some of his other advanced numbers are less inspiring. He’s being hit hard too often, and has already given up eight homers.
The extra years of control compared to free-agents-to-be will drive up Baltimore’s asking price. They might not be too keen to deal to a division rival. The upside is there, however, with Givens’ overpowering fastball and swing-and-miss offspeed stuff.
Acquiring a player with control beyond this year would perhaps be a sensible hedge for Boston, giving them an insurance in case they fall short of the postseason this time round.
There are plenty of Giants relievers that could’ve made this list.
Tony Watson, a veteran left-hander, is the pick. It can’t be overstated how much the Red Sox need a reliable lefty. They don’t come much more dependable than Watson, who is having yet another solid season, as he continues to get soft contact from hitters with his sinker and change.
Changeup usage has increased this year – Watson has moved away from his slider. The change is getting a swing and miss nearly a third of the time and has an expected weight on-base average of just .250.
Other Giants relievers might be a bit expensive for the Red Sox while their playoff chances are up in the air. Watson seems like a good compromise.
Another lefty, Jake Diekman signed with the Kansas City Royals on a two-year deal with a $5.75 million mutual option for the 2020 season.
Previously a turbo-sinker guy, Diekman has put the pitch away (throwing it just 7.1% of the time in 2019) and has started throwing a fourseamer along with increased slider usage (which gets a tonne of whiffs).
His expected numbers are great, putting him in the top 8% of the league in expected batting average and expected slugging. He’s striking out a third of the batters he faces, too.
The results, however, have been mixed. The 5.4 walks per nine isn’t great. The 1.3 WHIP and just-about-sub-five ERA are concerning. With all that stuff, though, teams should be jumping at the chance of add Diekman to their bullpen this month.
Should the Reds decide to sell (and it’s uncertain given how close the National League Central is), David Hernandez is a name the Red Sox should consider. Cincinnati’s bullpen has been solid this year, but Hernandez isn’t the name that leaps off the page. As a result, he’s a good budget option for a team like Boston, who have a limited farm to deal from.
While he doesn’t move the needle drastically, adding Hernandez would be a step in the right direction for this Red Sox relief group.