BOSTON (CBS) — As the Boston offense struggles, much of the trade deadline focus has been put on acquiring someone, anyone, who can both hit the ball and play an admirable third base.
But as we know, pitching is what really matters come October, and the Red Sox could certainly use some help bridging the gap from their starter to closer Craig Kimbrel.
The Boston bullpen has been a pleasant surprise this season, but you can never have too many arms when it comes to the playoffs. That’s why Dave Dombrowski’s main focus at the deadline should be finding some help for the later innings, something he has never really had much success at over his years of building baseball teams. His two main bullpen acquisitions in Boston (non-closer division) are Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, who have more stitches than innings pitched for the Red Sox. Dombrowski’s track record of adding reliable arms for the pen has been pretty poor no matter where he’s been, and that’s putting it nicely.
But that won’t (and shouldn’t) stop Dealin’ Dave from making a move. The pressure was ramped up a little more on Tuesday night when the Yankees, who trail Boston by 3.5 games, pulled off a giant swap to land a pair of talented bullpen arms and Todd Frazier’s bat. It’s a move that will make the race for the AL East a little more interesting in the closing months.
Here are five arms the Red Sox should consider adding ahead of the July 31 trade deadline:
Addison Reed, New York Mets
2017 Season Stats: 15 saves, 2.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Reed has served as New York’s fill-in closer this summer, notching 15 saves in 17 opportunities. The 28-year-old righty has 45 strikeouts in 43.2 innings, compared to just five walks. He has 121 career saves under his belt, including a 40-save season with the White Sox in 2013.
He’ll be a free agent after the season, so we’ll see if Reed ends up giving Boston a little more depth in their pen. Peter Gammons Tweeted (or judging by the way the Tweet was written, Peter Gammons’ backside Tweeted) Wednesday morning that the Mets were sending infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to Boston, but nothing else has been made of that reported deal, so we’ll see if there is a bigger trade to be made between the two teams in the near future.
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
2017 Season Stats: 2-4, 14 holds, 2.25 ERA, 0.979 WHIP
After struggling in Miami/Florida for the first five years of his career, Hand has turned into a solid reliever the last two seasons with the Padres. He’s fresh off of his first All-Star nod, sporting a 2.25 ERA over his 48 innings pitched. He’s primarily pitched in the eighth inning, with a 1.69 ERA and 37 punchouts in 26.2 innings as a setup man.
Hand won’t be a free agent until 2019, so he wouldn’t just be a three-month rental. He also isn’t the only option if the Red Sox decide to target another Padres pitcher this trade season, with Trevor Cahill and Jhoulys Chacin also intriguing options for the Boston pen.
Justin Wilson, Detroit Tigers
2017 Season Stats: 3-3, 10 saves, 8 holds, 2.29 ERA, 0.906 WHIP
Wilson has been solid for the Tigers ever since he settled into the closer’s role in place of an ineffective Francisco Rodriguez, notching 10 saves in 11 opportunities. He would instantly become Boston’s best lefty out of the pen and a solid setup man to get to Kimbrel.
The 29-year-old has one more year of arbitration left, so he’d be a pretty pricey option for Dombrowski on the trade market.
UPDATE: The Cubs have reportedly acquired Wilson and catcher Alex Avila for prospects.
Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies
2017 Season Stats: 3-2, 10 holds, 1.17 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
The 36-year-old righty earned his second career All-Star nod for a strong season he’s put together for the Phillies, boasting a 1.17 ERA in 41 appearances. He’d be a great setup man for the Red Sox, posting a 1.29 ERA in the seventh inning and a 1.50 ERA with a .175 batting average against in the eighth inning.
UPDATE: The Phillies traded Neshek to the Rockies for three prospects.
David Phelps, Miami Marlins
2017 Season Stats: 2-4, 18 holds, 3.45 ERA, 1.34 WHIP
The 30-year-old righty has 18 holds for the Marlins this season and has done his best work in the eighth inning, holding opponents to a .164 average and just one run over 22 appearances (21.2 innings). He would also be under team control for another year.
UPDATE: Phelps is reportedly being traded to the Mariners.