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Could Red Sox already have Craig Kimbrel's replacement?

Rob Bradford
September 23, 2018 - 2:18 pm

The Craig Kimbrel conversation isn't an easy one.

The Red Sox closer has certainly exhibited his value since coming over from San Diego prior to the 2016 season. (By the way, the centerpiece of that trade from the Padres' perspective, Manuel Margot, hasn't exactly torn it up. In 134 games this year the outfielder is hitting .246 with a .669 OPS and seven home runs. He also has been thrown out on half of his 20 stolen base attempts.)

But the time is coming where a true commitment to Kimbrel will be needed. Free agency is two months away.

The always excellent Twitter account @RedSoxStats put up a poll Sunday asking the question regarding what the Red Sox should do when it comes to their closer. The results were telling ...

There are no easy answers.

But with decisions coming on Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Rick Porcello, such a chunk of a change for a closer of that age might be difficult to swallow. So if the Red Sox don't want to go down that road how would they replace Kimbrel?

There are going to be some interesting names on the free agent market. Adam Ottavino. David Robertson. Jeurys Familia. Andrew Miller. Kelvin Herrera. Sergio Romo. Zach Britton.

But perhaps the Red Sox will choose familiarity when considering a replacement (while taking a flier one of the higher-risk candidates from the free agent pool). It that's the case remember these names: Ryan Brasier and Nathan Eovaldi.

Brasier would seem to be the leader in the clubhouse. Not only has he offered the image any team would want from their closer, but he has performed the role basically his entire professional career up until this season. There is also a cost-effectiveness that can't be ignored.

But what about Eovaldi? 

"I've always really been intrigued by him as a closer," a National League scout team that might have some interest in the player recently told me. That got me thinking. Why not?

Eovaldi doesn't have a single save to his credit, and he is eligible for free agency this offseason. But considering his stuff and repertoire, it might be a route worth going for both the team and the player. (His batting average against climbs steadily each time through the lineup.) Four years, $40 million, with the option of integrating him into the rotation if need be? Just a thought.