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Pipe down, peanut gallery: Red Sox have plenty of time to pick up relievers in August

Alex Reimer
August 01, 2018 - 12:05 pm

Those who are caterwauling about the Red Sox not picking up relief pitching before the July 31 non-waiver deadline should keep this piece of information in mind: the Astros acquired Justin Verlander last August. Surely, the Sox should be able to pick up Clinton Yates or Bud Norris.

Dave Dombrowski was active last month, but he failed to acquire Brad Ziegler, or another rental reliever, setting panic amongst the reactionary pessimists –– including yours truly for a bit. 

“Dombrowski failed to build a bullpen in Detroit. Are we seeing the same thing here?!”

Yes, the Red Sox are at least one reliever short. Joe Kelly struggled mightily in July, surrendering nine runs in 9.2 innings. That leaves Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and (maybe) Tyler Thornburg as the primary setup men for All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, who’s 8-for-12 with a 4.20 ERA in eighth-inning save opportunities. Kimbrel failed to convert a four-out save against the Twins last Friday night.

With that reality in mind, it would be negligent for Dombrowski to avoid addressing the bullpen before the calendar turns to September. Fortunately, plenty of relievers promise to be placed on the waiver wire over the next 31 days. Good relievers on bad baseball teams are perhaps the most useless commodity in sports. And guess what? There are plenty of bad baseball teams across the league.

Here is an incomplete list of tradable relievers still on their lousy teams: Kyle Barraclough, Adam Conley, Drew Steckenrider, Sergio Romo, Norris, Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Jose Leclerc, Yates, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Shane Greene, Jerry Blevins, Blake Parker and Fernando Rodney –– though he’s awful and the Red Sox shouldn’t touch him. Also, the Nationals could sell if they fail to make a run, which would make Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson available. WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports the Red Sox inquired about Herrera Monday night.

Though the Red Sox are last in the waiver wire order, the vast majority of teams won't be in the market for relievers, since they're out of contention. It seems inevitable that at least a couple of arms will fall to Boston. 

Dombrowski upgraded every other area of weakness on the Red Sox in July, bringing in Steve Pearce to help against lefties, Nathan Eovaldi to stabilize the rotation and Ian Kinsler to start at second base. Those rash of moves sent the Red Sox over the highest luxury tax threshold. There’s no reason for Dombrowski to stop now, and he has plenty of time to act. 

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