Resetting reliever market for Red Sox

Rob Bradford
January 08, 2019 - 10:04 am

Within the last few days, the Red Sox' relief-pitching options would seem to have dwindled considerably.

David Robertson has gone to Philadelphia, with Kelvin Herrera signing on with the White Sox. And, of course, the Yankees added to their list of game-enders with the inking of Zach Britton.

So where does that leave Alex Cora's bullpen?

When mentioning what the late-inning relief options might look like Dave Dombrowski has been quick to cite Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Steven Wright, with no signs of he is desperate to add into that mix. They set their price on Joe Kelly, Joakim Soria, Britton, Robertson and Herrera, ultimately letting the Dodgers, A's, New York, Phils and Chicago outbid them without seemingly batting an eye.

Sure, there is a notion that Craig Kimbrel -- the best reliever on the market -- could fall back into the Sox' financial comfort zone, but it's still hard to imagine that sweet spot is anything other than three years or less. And even with the logical suitors becoming increasingly more difficult to decipher for the 30-year-old closer, it still wouldn't be a shock at all to see the likes of St. Louis, Atlanta, the Angels or another mystery club pop up with a four-year deal.

Then there is the other top tier guy, Adam Ottavino. The guess is that the Red Sox will probably fall short in any pursuit of the righty due to the simple reason that there will be other teams that want him more. Perhaps he is the one guy Dombrowski is ready to outbid teams for, but Major League Baseball murmurs suggest that doesn't seem to be the way things are trending.

What is working for the Red Sox is the availability of other serviceable relievers who could certainly fit a seventh-, eighth- or even ninth-inning need.

Here are some of the names still out there:

Cody Allen, Brad Boxberger, Brad Brach, Greg Holland, Bud Norris, Adam Warren and Justin Wilson.

All imperfect options, but such is the life of a team that will be forced more than ever to identify where money is needed and where it isn't. Signing one of the aforementioned options will represent a myriad of gambles, even when it comes to paying whatever it might cost to keep Kimbrel in the closer role for the next few years. When it comes to late-inning relief, there are no certainties.

It's looking more and more like the Red Sox would rather roll their dice with those who they know, and that includes the potential of minor-leaguers such as Durbin Feltman and/or Travis Lakins.

The way the Red Sox are undoubtedly looking at it is this way -- the uncertainty of not having the financial space to keep the likes of J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale or Rick Porcello around would be a whole lot more uncomfortable than missing out on a level or relief pitcher they might already have.