Regardless of the time of year, Major League Baseball teams always are looking for bullpen help. Even the ones that seemingly have a great cast of relievers constantly are looking for ways to shore up their pitching staff.
However, there might be no team in greater need of bullpen reinforcements than the Boston Red Sox.
Boston’s bullpen became an issue as Craig Kimbrel faltered down the stretch of the 2018 World Series championship campaign. Kimbrel departed after that season, and the Red Sox have yet to find a bona fide closer to replace him, despite the best efforts of Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman over the last two years. And while there have been some sources of optimism (Barnes in 2018; Phillips Valdez in 2019; Darwinzon Hernandez’s tantalizing talent), the fact remains that Boston’s bullpen has been among the worst in baseball since the start of the 2018 season.
Following a season in which their relievers posted the fourth-worst ERA in baseball, the Red Sox have some work to do this offseason. Thankfully, there should be some intriguing names on the free agency market.
Here are five free agent relievers the Red Sox could target this winter:
Liam Hendriks, RHP
Perhaps the top reliever on the market, Hendriks is everything the Red Sox need and, probably, want.
Closing experience? Hendriks saved 39 games for the Oakland Athletics over the last two seasons. Effective? The right-hander has a combined 1.79 ERA since the start of 2019, along with an awesome 0.897 WHIP. The 31-year-old Aussie also has experience starting in the “opener” role, something that surely will appeal to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
Alex Colome, RHP
Bloom is plenty familiar with Colome, who pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2013 to 2018. Occasionally erratic, the hard-throwing Colome has 138 saves to go along with a 2.62 ERA since 2016. The 31-year-old is coming off a season in which he compiled a 0.81 ERA to go along with 12 saves for the Chicago White Sox.
Colome won’t come cheap, but he’s the best true closer on the market.
Blake Treinen, RHP
Any team that adds Treinen will be assuming some inherent risk.
The right-hander was great for the A’s in 2017 before earning American League Cy Young Award and even MVP love in 2018 when he saved 38 games and compiled a ridiculous 0.78 ERA. But Treinen regressed significantly last season, raising concerns that he was done. However, the 32-year-old rebounded this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 3.86 ERA over 27 appearances. He’s might be worth the gamble.
Jake McGee, LHP
A pitcher whom Bloom also is familiar with, McGee enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career this year, with the obvious caveat that it was a 60-game campaign. The former Ray posted a great 2.66 ERA for the Dodgers to go along with an even better 0.836 WHIP.
Perhaps most importantly, McGee is a left-handed reliever, something the Red Sox sorely need.
This one is tricky, but nonetheless worth bringing up.
The New York Yankees must pick up Britton’s 2022 option after the completion of the upcoming World Series. If they don’t do that, Britton can opt-out of his current deal and become a free agent. You can click here for more information on the weird contract.
If Britton somehow becomes a free agent, the Red Sox, along with most teams, likely will have some interest. The left-hander is one of the game’s best relievers, as well as a proven closer. The 32-year-old compiled a 1.89 ERA this season to go along with eight saves. He’d be expensive.