The Boston Red Sox are rumored to be serious about upgrading their bullpen. Will they work out a deal with the San Diego Padres, again?
ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the Boston Red Sox are in the market for an 8th inning set-up man but not just any run of the mill reliever. The San Diego Padres have a few different options that would classify as upgrades, however, based on Crasnick’s reporting and quotes from other teams, should the Red Sox come calling, Brad Hand will be the target.
There’s one problem with this potential partnership. Friar faithful fondly remember the July 2016 trade that sent LHP Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox for prized prospect, Anderson Espinoza. That trade resulted in a 30-day suspension for General Manager A.J. Preller after the team sent false medical records to Boston.
If Boston is truly as serious as it seems they are, can Dave Dombrowski forgive and forget, or at least forget?
Unlike our post from yesterday, highlighting the atrocious bullpen of the Cleveland Indians and their need for an upgrade, the Red Sox have one of the best bullpens in the league. They rank 5th in collective WAR (4.3), 6th in ERA (3.23), 3rd in FIP (3.36), 5th in opponent’s batting average (.220), and 6th in WHIP (1.20).
Consistency has been the biggest issue with a few of their current pieces, like Joe Kelly (disastrous July) and Matt Barnes (12% walk rate). Craig Kimbrel is a free agent after this season and is sure to fetch a salary higher than his current $13 million/year.
Despite the flaws, the group has still been dominant, from the right side. The one thing the Boston bullpen lacks is a left-handed option. Hand has experience working the 8th inning this season and could slide into full-time closing duties again next season when Kimbrel hits the open market. Hand is under team control through 2021, making $6.5 million in 2019, $7 million in 2020, and $10 million in 2021 (also has a club option attached to that season).
The Red Sox have a lineup that will keep them competitive for many years ahead, so it only makes sense that they would rather have a controllable, dominant bullpen piece, rather than a rental like a 34-year-old in Craig Stammen.
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Here’s the problem, the Padres aren’t getting rid of Brad Hand unless they are blown away by an offer. There were earlier reports that said the Padres wanted Rafael Devers, the highly-touted 21-year-old infielder. Boston isn’t getting rid of that type of player for a reliever.
Does Boston have the prospects to make a deal happen? Nope. Their top prospect is Michael Chavis who suffered an oblique injury, followed by an 80-game suspension for PEDs. Next on the list of top prospects is LHP Jay Groome, who is on the shelf with Tommy John. What about last year’s 1st round pick, RHP Tanner Houck? He has 52 walks in 78 innings, pitching for the Salem Red Sox in the High-A Carolina League.
Outside of taking a chance on Chavis, Boston doesn’t have any top prospects who provide an upgrade for the Padres or will push for playing time this year or next. Even Chavis is a risky prospect with an extremely powerful bat, but average hit tool and no definite defensive position, yet.
While the situation seems appealing, the talent just doesn’t match up. San Diego wants (and deserves) too much for Hand, the kind of talent the Red Sox don’t have down on the farm.