The Red Sox have a handful of tradeable pieces that could be on the move between now and the end of the offseason, with closer Andrew Bailey ranking as perhaps the most valuable.
According to a tweet from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox could look to move one of either their catcher, a left-handed reliever, Alfredo Aceves or Bailey, as they are all expendable pieces at this point.
Bailey was made expendable by the team's trade for Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan earlier this week, and Abraham tweeted that new manager John Farrell had already told Bailey and Hanrahan that Hanrahan will be the team's closer.
It was around this time last year that the Red Sox first acquired Bailey, shipping outfielder Josh Reddick, first baseman Miles Head and pitcher Raul Alcantara to the A's for Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
Bailey was expected to step in and replace Jonathan Papelbon, who signed with the Phillies in free agency. However, a thumb injury delayed his Red Sox debut until mid-August, and he finished the season making just 19 appearances and posting a 7.04 ERA.
Heading into last season, Bailey had started his career off with a bang. In three seasons with the A's, he had a 2.07 ERA and was 75-of-84 on save chances. He was also the AL Rookie of the Year in 2009 and a two-time All-Star.
So while last season wasn't pretty, Bailey has the track record to elicit plenty of interest if the Red Sox do make him available in the weeks ahead.
Here is a look at three teams who could have interest in bringing Bailey, who is under team control through 2014, aboard as their closer.
New York Mets
The Mets bullpen was among the worst in baseball last season (4.65 ERA, 29th in MLB), and while closer Frank Francisco converted 23 of 26 save chances, he did it with a 5.53 ERA and 1.61 WHIP.
Francisco and Bobby Parnell (7-of-12 saves, 2.49 ERA) are expected to fill the closer's role again this season, but the bullpen as a whole would benefit from the addition of a proven late-inning arm.
The Mets don't have much in the way of payroll room, but Bailey could be a fit at roughly $4 million this coming season. They have the pieces to pull off a trade, and the need is certainly there. It's just a matter of whether or not that is where they want to allocate their limited funds.
Despite the loss of closer Jose Valverde in free agency, the Tigers have held to their stance that they will fill the ninth-inning role internally.
Flame-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon appears to be the front-runner for the job, with veterans Octavio Dotel, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit in the mix as well.
However, they could make a play for Bailey, who will likely get a salary similar to the $3.9 million he earned in his first year of arbitration last season. That is substantially less than it would cost to sign someone like Rafael Soriano, and he'd certainly boost the Tigers' bullpen situation.
The only team with a worse bullpen ERA than the Mets last season was the Brewers (4.66 ERA), as John Axford took a big step back in his second season as the team's closer with nine blown saves and a 4.67 ERA.
Burke Badenhop and Tom Gorzelanny have been added to the bullpen already this offseason, but Bailey would give them a potentially elite closing option if they were to decide not to go with Axford.
The Brewers have a number of big league ready prospects who would no doubt interest the Red Sox, and for a Brewers team with one of the best offenses in baseball, Bailey could be the piece that makes them a legitimate contender.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!