The New York Yankees bolstered their bullpen by acquiring relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox in addition to third baseman Todd Frazier. Will the Boston Red Sox — the lone team ahead of New York in the American League East — counter in the coming days?
The Red Sox have been linked to several relievers leading up to next Monday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline, and it’s reasonable to think Boston will look to solidify its bullpen despite the unit performing well for most of this season. After all, a good bullpen can be a difference-maker in October.
The Red Sox certainly aren’t alone in their quest to add relief help, so they’ll have some competition on the trade market. Fortunately, the market is littered with potential impact arms, some of whom would be a good fit for Boston.
Let’s look at a few relievers the Red Sox could pursue before the deadline.
Pat Neshek, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Neshek, a free agent after this season, would give Boston’s bullpen a different look. The Red Sox have several hard-throwing relievers, but Neshek, who tops out at around 90-91 mph, has a herky-jerky delivery that could befuddle hitters in conjunction with the team’s current late-inning arms. The two-time All-Star also is equally as effective against lefties and righties. He could be the 2017 version of Brad Ziegler, who performed very well for Boston late last season after a savvy trade by Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
Justin Wilson, LHP, Detroit Tigers
The Red Sox could use a lefty in their right-handed-heavy bullpen, and Wilson, who has struck out more than 12 batters per nine innings this season, is a power arm capable of generating swing and miss. He’s under contract through next season, which should increase his price tag, but his four-seamer explodes on hitters, making him a nice option for high-leverage situations.
Anthony Swarzak, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Swarzak was a relative unknown entering this season, but he’s enjoyed a breakout campaign at age 31, giving him some trade value as the White Sox continue to sell off pieces. Acquiring Swarzak wouldn’t be the sexiest move, but he features a slider that’s tough on righties and he’s a free agent this winter, meaning it shouldn’t take much to pry him away from the Windy City.
Addison Reed, RHP, New York Mets
Reed has been underrated the last couple of years, but that could change if he’s thrust back into a pennant race. Although he wouldn’t be the closer in Boston, where Craig Kimbrel owns the ninth inning, the 28-year-old would give the Sox a reliever with good control and who can pick up a key strikeout. He’s a free agent after this season.
A.J. Ramos, RHP, Miami Marlins
Ramos is under contract through next season, so the Marlins ultimately might hang onto the right-hander if they feel like they can contend in 2018. However, Ramos has been the subject of trade rumors for a few weeks, which is understandable. The 2016 All-Star has plenty of late-inning experience, which teams seemingly covet. He’s also capable of fanning hitters, evidenced by his 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings over the course of his six-year career.
Drew Storen, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Storen is becoming somewhat of a journeyman after spending his first six seasons with the Washington Nationals. He’s been on three teams since the beginning of 2016, experiencing ups and downs along the way, but he’s generally been a quality reliever throughout his career and should be available given that he’s slated to become a free agent this offseason.
Hunter Strickland, RHP, San Francisco Giants
The Giants might want to keep Strickland, who’s under team control through 2021, especially if they think they can return to contention next season after a miserable 2017 in the Bay Area. He’s reportedly drawing a fair amount of interest, though, and one can’t help but wonder whether the team views him differently in light of his controversial brawl with Bryce Harper earlier this season.
Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
This is a long shot given the recent history between the Red Sox and Orioles, as well as the high price it’ll likely cost Boston in terms of prospects. But if Baltimore decides to trade its prized closer, the Red Sox should at least make a phone call. Britton was arguably the most dominant reliever in baseball last season, and his extensive track record suggests he could be a game-changer on a contender.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images