Don’t expect a new face in the Boston Red Sox’s bullpen any time soon.
Most viewed relief pitching as the Red Sox’s only true area of need as the offseason progressed, especially after Joe Kelly signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency and Craig Kimbrel’s contract demands surfaced.
Dave Dombrowski has been fairly transparent about the state of Boston’s bullpen over the past few months, noting on more than one occasion it was unlikely the franchise would issue a lucrative deal to a relief pitcher on the open market. But with Kimbrel still unsigned, the door was left open for a possible return to the Red Sox for the hard-throwing righty.
That door, however, effectively was slammed shut Monday.
“As far as signings are concerned I would say we?re through at this point,” Dombrowski told reporters Monday, as transcribed by WEEI. “That doesn?t mean that won?t be a priority just because of how we shape up. It?s something to kind of follow in spring training as you follow other things, I can?t rule that out. We don?t have anything going outside the organization. We stay in contact with people and see if there is anything that becomes a situation that makes sense.”
As it stands, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier likely can be viewed as the frontrunners for the closing job, at least to start the season. But as Dombrowski notes, you can’t rule out a move some time down the road. A versatile arm became a need for the Red Sox as last season unfolded, and Dombrowski and Co. managed to fill that void and then some with the acquisition of Nathan Eovaldi.
While Kelly and Kimbrel were key pieces, Boston’s bullpen as a whole was strong throughout the 2018 playoffs. And if the unit can carry that momentum into the upcoming campaign, the Sox will be in good shape.