It's no secret that the bullpen was pretty abysmal for the Red Sox in 2010, but things could be a lot worse. The front office has made fixing the pen a priority, and they're in luck. There are nothing but options for bullpen available this offseason.
Even better, two of Boston's AL East rivals appear on their ways to hemorrhaging loads of relief talent. Tampa's Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit are available, and while Soriano is getting the hype — and likely the big payday — it was Benoit who was actually the better pitcher last season. He gave up nine runs in over 60 innings, good for a 1.34 ERA and 0.68 WHIP. He's also a little older, 33, and has been injured in the past, so his price tag may not be as over-the-top as his stats would suggest. When you have a chance to steal your rival's best relief pitcher, you should probably do it — even if you don't have much need at the position. When you desperately need pen help, it's a no-brainer.
Toronto, however, may have even more to offer in the pen. Closer Kevin Gregg is now a free agent after the Jays declined his option, and relievers Scott Downs and Jason Frasor are also available. Boston doesn't need anybody for the ninth inning, but Gregg has not been a closer for his entire career, and he is now 32 years of age. While his 37 saves were fourth in the AL last season, the idea of him returning to a more traditional relief role doesn't seem totally out of the question. Downs and Frasor also are valuable commodities. Downs, a lefty, sported a 2.64 ERA in 2010, and was among the league's leaders in holds.
The market for relief is a strong one. Closers Heath Bell, Joakim Soria, Bobby Jenks and David Aardsma all may be available, as may former closer Brian Fuentes. Mets workhorse Pedro Feliciano, who made 92 appearances in 2010, and World Series champion Jeremy Affeldt both are options as well.
As bad as the bullpen was last season, Theo Epstein has nothing but options for as far as fixing the problem is concerned. He could even hurt some rivals in the process.
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