By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
Before we get to this list, keep in mind that while some of these options aren’t exactly sexy… neither was Steve Pearce when initially acquired. Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t exactly a huge splash at the July 31st deadline. But both players provided strong value down the stretch. The Red Sox roster has plenty of elite talent as currently constituted. So hopefully the front office will identify those valuable low risk high reward targets to bolster this roster, and defend it’s title.
The long time Houston Astro and 2015 Cy Young winner will enter 2019 in his age 31 season. He is currently projected to land a roughly four year deal worth $84M. So essentially a “Rick Porcello contract.”
Keuchel’s numbers might not be as great as his 2015 campaign, but he did post a solid 3.74 ERA last season, and owns a 3.31 ERA in the playoffs. Despite not having a high strikeout rate, the Red Sox only need him to be a strong middle of the rotation pitcher behind Chris Sale and David Price.
Pitchers who typically aren’t over powering, and have effective offspeed stuff often have longer careers. There are no guarantee’s Sale or Porcello return after next season, so Keuchel essentially becomes an important insurance policy.
Most Red Sox fans prefer Eovaldi, but if they are both likely to get similar contracts, I will take the proven guy every single time.
Admittedly, Pollock isn’t a great fit for the Red Sox due to the fact their outfield is loaded. However, if Martinez plays DH for most of the year, Pollock would be a solid fourth outfielder, and would likely get plenty of playing time due to Alex Cora’s aggressive resting strategy.
Injuries could also occur, which happens to be one of the biggest knocks on Pollock’s career thus far. He has broken his right elbow twice. And fractured his thumb last season with the Diamondbacks, which limited him to 113 games. It was especially unfortunate, because he was looking like an early MVP candidate in the National League before the injury took place. He finished the season with 21 home runs and 65 RBI.
Pollock has solid .281 career average, and equally solid .805 OPS. It would take several starts to align for him to end up with the Red Sox, but it could be a nice late season signing if his market isn’t too high. I would celebrate it.
This definitely keeps with the theme of “not sexy.” Happ is another lefty that could potentially slot into a Red Sox rotation that is riddled with lefties. He is 36 years old, and does not have over powering velocity.
Despite what you see on the surface. Happ has finished his last four seasons with an ERA below 4.00. He is coming off the best season of his career in terms of strikeout rate (SO/9 was 9.8), and has pitched most of his career very successfully in the A.L. East. He is a solid backup option if Nathan Eovaldi prices himself out of Boston.
With a lot of uncertainty over whether or not Dustin Pedroia will be healthy enough to compete in 2019, Gonzalez would be a highly effective, yet inexpensive option for second base. His defensive versatility rival’s that of Brock Holt. Except Marwin is far more durable, has a lot more stamina, hits for power, and is just quite frankly better.
Gonzalez turns 30 in March, but projects to get a four year deal in the $40M range. Having played for the Astros, he knows how to win, and won’t be phased by the intense Boston fan base.
The good aspect about Familia is that he has pitched in a big market while closing for the New York Mets. He was then traded to Oakland, and pulled his weight in their bullpen. He will not be phased by pitching in Fenway, and is still only 29 years old, with good velocity.
The bad? He spent a chunk for the 2017 season suspended for beating his wife. Signing him to a long term deal (3-4 years) could prove risky if he can’t stay out of trouble off the field.
Regardless, Familia is one of the better right handed options on the trade market, and shouldn’t come with a huge price tag.
Easily my first choice for the Red Sox to pursue. In 2016 he was a Cy Young and MVP candidate after finishing the season with a 0.54 ERA, only having allowed four runs all season.
Britton was marred with injuries for most of 2017, and half of 2018. Upon being traded to the Yankees he had a rough start to his tenure, but pitched effectively down the stretch to end his stint there with a 2.88 ERA.
The Red Sox haven’t had a solid lefty in quite some time, Britton at 30 years old could fill the role for at least the next few seasons. He still throws mid 90’s, and has a 70-80% ground ball rate, which would serve him well in Fenway Park.
I’m not a huge fan of Robertson. He’s spent parts of nine seasons from within the Yankees organization. He also served as the closer for the Chicago White Sox. Was considered to be a leader within the Yankees clubhouse. Controversially left out staffers when it was his task to divide up the post season bonus shares. And I honestly feel like the last thing Boston needs is any disruption from their current clubhouse leadership.
All bitching aside, Robertson does have one of the highest strikeout rates among active relievers. And despite already being 34 years old, still seems to have plenty left in the tank. He’s has a career 2.88 ERA, and will certainly have plenty of suitors. As well as, unfortunately, the Red Sox.
What Red Sox fan wouldn’t love a reunion with Andrew Miller? At the behest of infamous former manager, Bobby Valentine, Miller became the premier lefty reliever in MLB. From the Sox, to the Yankees, a cup of coffee with the Orioles who he helped get to the ALCS, Miller has proved he could pitch anywhere. The highlight of his career was probably helping the Indians get to the World Series, and helping coin the term “super reliever.”
What the Red Sox front office hopefully realizes, is that the 33 year old Miller is probably at the point in his career where he will have to return to the conventional three out philosophy. He has battled knee issues the last season and a half. And despite a clean bill of health, they will hopefully be realistic in how he could best help the Red Sox.
His 4.24 ERA in 2018 might not look appealing. But he was 1.55 or under the past three seasons in a row. And like Britton, could certainly be the dominant lefty they are looking for. I would love a one year deal, but he will likely command a 2-3 year deal on the open market.
He might possibly be the most overlooked reliever on the market this winter, but the 28 year old former Royal has established quite a career for himself. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski was rumored to have come close to acquiring him from the National last summer, but the deal apparently fell through.
Of all the established former closers currently on the market, Herrera’s fast ball still reaches the upper 90’s, and has little trouble recording outs. Many might question whether he can pitch in a big market, but his role in helping the Kansas City Royals should speak for itself. In 22 post season relief appearances, he has a 1.26 ERA.
He may be subject to a one year deal since he is coming off a foot injury which occurred last summer. But I do expect many teams to be willing to take the risk.
I know… what? Sanchez rose from the dead last season with the Atlanta Braves after seeming falling off a cliff following the 2014 season with the Detroit Tigers, only one season after out dueling Jon Lester in game one of the ALCS, at Fenway Park no less. He was also the A.L. ERA leader in 2013.
Thanks to developing a newly discovered cutter, Sanchez posted a 2.85 ERA with his Braves stint last season, undoubtedly helping them reach the playoffs for the first time in several years.
He would certainly be a cheap alternative should the Red Sox lose out on the Nathan Eovaldi sweepstakes, and given the fact he’s already 35 years old, it wouldn’t likely be a long term deal. But there is a connection to Dombrowski, who was the GM that signed him to the Detroit deal. So I will be watching with a degree of curiosity. Everyone loves a good comeback story.
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