Assessing the reliever market after Red Sox' move for Andrew Cashner

Amin Touri
July 16, 2019 - 2:05 pm
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Having acquired Andrew Cashner over the weekend and with Nathan Eovaldi looking close to returning ahead of a move to the bullpen, the Red Sox are in a better situation pitching-wise than they were a week ago, but they may not be done.

With the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reporting that Boston may still be in the market for another arm and the rotation fairly set, it seems that Dave Dombrowski is again evaluating the reliever market with two weeks to go before the trade deadline.

The Giants are set to sell, and as a result Will Smith has emerged as one of the top relievers available ahead of the deadline, as the Giants are rumored to be in trade talks with the Brewers over Smith, who’s posted a 2.11 ERA in 38.1 innings out of the bullpen in San Francisco, striking out 54. If a move to Milwaukee doesn’t materialize, Smith would be a great option for a Red Sox team without a legit lefty out of the pen, though it would take some doing.

Looking at some other southpaws expected to be on the market, Sean Doolittle rumors have cooled after he stated last week that he didn’t want to leave Washington, as have those around Brad Hand as the Indians have climbed back into Wild Card contention, currently holding the final playoff spot. The Pirates’ Felipe Vazquez is probably the best lefty available, but comes with a serious price tag that Boston likely wouldn’t be interested in.

Shane Greene will also be a hot commodity out of Detroit, having posted a fairly ridiculous 1.06 ERA after that number was north of five last season, though he also would likely come with a high price tag. His teammate, Joe Jimenez, is another candidate to depart if the Tigers choose to sell.

The Blue Jays are also expected to host a fire sale at the deadline, and closer Ken Giles should be on the move, drawing interest from the Yankees and Twins among other teams. However, nerve inflammation in his elbow has slowed talks, though the notoriously streaky Giles will still have plenty of suitors throughout the month of July.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield suggested the Red Sox go after Ian Kennedy, who’s been solid for the Royals this season. If Dombrowski wants to go back to the Baltimore well, Mychal Givens should be available as well, and if you look past his middling surface numbers, he could be a useful bullpen arm.

MLB.com’s Joe Frisario mentioned Saturday that the Marlins have a triumvirate of relievers that could be on the move, in Austin Brice, Jarlin Garcia and Nick Anderson, as Miami is another team that could position itself as sellers.

It’s unlikely that the Red Sox are going to go out and get a shutdown closer that’ll fix the bullpen entirely — they’re probably not selling the farm again (if there is a big enough farm to sell) to make an Andrew Miller/Aroldis Chapman-type blockbuster we saw in 2016. However, there’s plenty of potential to get one more arm that could be more reliable in medium-leverage situations — a more reliable Ryan Brasier or Heath Hembree than a Kenley Jansen or Edwin Diaz — that, combined with Eovaldi, could make the Boston bullpen just effective enough to contend.

Related: Andrew Cashner trade may not be final move for Red Sox