What relievers are left for the Red Sox

Rob Bradford
February 06, 2019 - 8:10 am

The Red Sox can claim to be bringing back the same team, but that isn't truly the reality. Not right now anyway.

As of this moment, the Sox are missing their best regular season and postseason relievers, respectively -- Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly. The duo combined to pitch in 128 mostly high-leverage relief innings. That's a lot.

The answer so far has been the return of Steven Wright and Tyler Thornburg, the hopeful development of Colten Brewer, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Travis Lakins along with the lightning-in-the-bottle mentality that comes with non-roster invitees Zach Putnam, Ryan Weber, Carson Smith and Brian Ellington.

Then there is the hope that Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes can be bumped up to live the life as the kind of game-enders Kimbrel has always been and Kelly represented in October.

But this is the here and the now. There is still time to tweak the equation, as is evident by a list of relievers who continue to live the uncomfortable life of free agents. Here is some of what is left for the Red Sox to choose from:

Kimbrel: Should be the top priority if price ultimately is right. Sometimes it's good to pay for certainty. I can't imagine Red Sox would be willing to go past two years, because they weren't with other high-leverage free agents. But maybe, just maybe, the pillow contract will come into play for the 30-year-old.

Adam Warren: The 31-year-old has proven can pitch in the American League East, striking out 37 in 30 innings with the Yankees last year, posting a 2.70 ERA.

Sergio Romo: Sure, he's 35 years old and isn't exactly the lock-down closer-type some might want, but Romo offers the kind of versatility and fearlessness that is gold in this day and age of bullpens.

Bud Norris: For what it's worth, he just switched agents, probably wondering why a guy who has 47 saves over the past two years still can't find the deal guys like Adam Ottavino, Andrew Miller, Jeurys Familia and others have already reeled in.

Brad Boxberger:  He has closing experience, having filled the role for the Diamondbacks last season, is a strikeout pitcher and is just 30 years old. Boxberger has also lived the life in this division, spending four seasons with the Rays -- one of which included a 41-save campaign. (Update: Boxberger agreed to a one-year contract with the Royals Wednesday.)

Alex Wilson: Remember him? There was a reason Dave Dombrowski included the righty in the deal that sent Rick Porcello to Boston. The 32-year-old has turned into a reliable middle-inning reliever, totaling 60 or more innings in each of his four seasons with the Tigers.