Patrick McDermott-USA Today

Wake up, Dave! Red Sox must land reliever if they want to make World Series run

Alex Reimer
July 28, 2018 - 12:01 pm

On paper, the 71-win Red Sox are almost a perfect team. They lead all of baseball in runs scored and their starters own the second-lowest ERA in the league. The possibility exists that the rotation will be lousy in October once again, but Dave Dombrowski can’t be blamed for that. The president of baseball operations has put his team in the best position to succeed, trading for Chris Sale and spending $217 million on David Price. 

But the same can’t be said for the bullpen. The Red Sox’ one weakness lies at the end of games, and time is running out for Dombrowski to bring in reinforcements. With the trade deadline just three days away, the potential targets are almost all gone.

Craig Kimbrel failed to convert the four-out save Friday against Minnesota, which makes him 8-for-12 with a 4.20 ERA in eighth-inning save opportunities. On Thursday, Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes failed to protect the Red Sox’ one-lead, and Joe Kelly was charged with three runs in Boston’s 7-6 loss to the lowly Orioles on Tuesday. 

The Red Sox’ barren farm system probably precludes them from making certain trades. They are the only team in the league that doesn’t have a prospect in MLB Pipeline’s top-100 list. With that reality in mind, there was likely no way they could’ve outbid the Yankees for Zach Britton. The price the Indians paid for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber –– top catching prospect Francisco Mejia –– was probably too steep as well. 

But that doesn’t excuse Dombrowski for staying idle. The Red Sox, as exhibited by their acquisition of Nathan Eovaldi, have enough in their system to pull off deals. The best prospect the A’s surrendered to the Mets for right-hander Jeurys Familia was Will Toffey, who’s ranked anywhere between No. 15 and No. 20 in their system. Houston gave up its 10th- and 15th-best ranked prospects for Twins righty Ryan Pressly. Surely, the Red Sox could’ve matched those offers. 

During Dombrowski’s time in Detroit, he built the Tigers into a powerhouse. But they never boasted a championship-caliber bullpen, which ultimately led to their downfall, despite having arguably the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and rotation (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez) in the league. 

It would be a shame if the Red Sox suffered a similar fate.

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