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A few free agents the Red Sox are probably paying attention to

Rob Bradford
November 05, 2018 - 1:01 pm

What do the Red Sox need?

Usually heading into the GM meetings -- which are unfolding the next few days in Carlsbad, Calif. -- it's pretty clear there is a priority. Last year it was getting someone who could hit the ball out of the park. Hence, J.D. Martinez. This time the conversation is a bit murkier. Trade Blake Swihart? Can they rely on Dustin Pedroia? Should they go all-in for a Nathan Eovaldi to protect themselves in the present and the future? Is there a better option to complement Mitch Moreland at first base than Steve Pearce?

This much we do know: The Red Sox need to figure out will be their game-ending reliever in 2019.

To kick up the conversation here are some free agent names who might be in the mix to help satisfy the Red Sox' closing conundrum (with contract projections from MLB Trade Rumors):

Kelvin Herrera

Still just 28 years old, the former Royals/Nationals closer was the one reliever the Red Sox thought might be worth targeting at the non-waiver trade deadline. As it turned out, it's a good thing for the Red Sox the Nationals decided against putting Herrera on the market with the pitcher undergoing surgery on his foot (Lisfranc ligament) in late August. While the pitcher's recovery time is somewhat of mystery, getting such a talent on a discounted, one-year deal as a fail-safe for the likes of Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier would seem to be a solid approach. (MLBTR projection: 1 year, $8 million.)

Zach Britton 

The lefty was good but not great with the Yankees, often times succumbing to control issues. And Britton has certainly had his run of injuries issues, the most recent being the Achilles tendon ailment that delayed his 2018 debut until early June. But judging by that finish last season there still seems like a dominant closer in there, one which could probably be had for a palatable three-year deal. (MLBTR projection: 3 years, $33 million.)

Andrew Miller

There are red flags when it comes to the lefty with injuries starting to pile up for the 33-year-old. He sputtered a bit down the stretch, including two ineffective outings in the American League Division Series. He would seem to be a risk worth taking, with Miller's stuff still there to offer the kind of lefty option which would seem to be a good fit in this bullpen. (MLBTR projection: 3 years, $27 million.)

Joe Kelly

While many might want to discount the righty after seeing the worst he had to offer in the final three months of the regular season, what Kelly displayed throughout the postseason shouldn't be pushed aside. The Red Sox feel like they fixed him heading into the playoffs and evidently, they were right. Like all the aforementioned high-leverage relievers, there is a gamble in anointing the 30-year-old as something more than he represented in 2018. But, also as is the case with the other candidates, the upside might be worth the investment. (MLBTR projection: 3 years, $27 million.)

Craig Kimbrel

With all the contract decisions coming the Red Sox way, it's difficult to imagine they take a legitimate run at the closer considering some of the arms on the horizon (Travis Lakins, Durbin Feltman, Darwinzon Hernandez), the pieces they already possess (Barnes, Brasier) and the intriguing, albeit slightly flawed, free agent options. (MLBTR projection: 4 years, $70 million.)

Adam Ottavino

This one is intriguing, and not just because he went to Northeastern. Sure, the righty is 33 years old, and he has built his resume on a stellar 2018 after a really bad 2017. But Ottavino seems to have figured some things out, as his 112 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings might suggest. (MLBTR projection: 3 years, $30 million.)

David Robertson

He is representing himself, but it shouldn't be a tough sell. The 34-year-old is the picture of consistency at the backend of the bullpen, as Red Sox fans witnessed in their dealings with the Yankees. It's because of that reliability that, despite his age, Robertson still will join most of these other candidates in garnering a three-year deal. (MLBTR projection: 3 years, $33 million.)

Joakim Soria

The 34-year-old might not offer the perception of a dominant closer, but if nothing else he will be cheaper than most of these other options. He is a guy who isn't afraid of the big moment. He also has a history with Dave Dombrowski, who traded for him in 2014. Probably more of a seventh- or eighth-inning guy if signed. (MLBTR projection: 2 years, $18 million.)

Related: Bradford: How the Red Sox could be even better next season