Andrew Bailey: What Should the Boston Red Sox Do with the Former Closer?

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIFebruary 21, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Relief pitcher Andrew Bailey #40 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39  after defeating the Seattle Mariners 4-3 at Safeco Field on September 4, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Reliever Andrew Bailey was acquired by the Boston Red Sox in a deal prior to the 2012 season, a move that was assumed to put the team at an immediate advantage over their American League foes.

Fast forward to the regular season, and Bailey was on the shelf for a majority of the season after undergoing surgery on his right thumb. He didn't return to the close role right away and ended up posting the worst numbers of his major league career (7.04 ERA, 1.891 WHIP).

The Red Sox acquired yet another closer this offseason. Joel Hanrahan, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has already been named the team's closer for 2013.

Hanrahan is coming off a fine season in Pittsburgh, saving 36 games and posting an ERA of 2.72. He was even better in 2011, saving 40 games and posting a 1.83 ERA.

Bailey is no slouch in the ninth inning, either.

His career save numbers aren't particularly high—he averaged 25 saves per season from 2009-11—but that was simply a product of playing for the then-lowly Oakland Athletics. He even won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2009 after dominating opposing batters late in games.

If he can bounce back in 2013, the Red Sox will have arguably the best setup man in baseball in the back end of their bullpen.

Buster Olney reports that general manager Ben Cherington is already open to trading him, but also recognizes the fact that his value is relatively low.

Should he bounce back, what will the Red Sox do?

Frankly, he should be traded.

The Red Sox will enjoy having him as depth should Hanrahan not pan out, but he is simply too good in the ninth inning to be a setup man. Teams with holes in the ninth inning will come calling and Boston will likely be able to get a nice return for Bailey.

It probably won't be anywhere near what they gave up to get him—outfielder Josh Reddick was the centerpiece of the deal—but it should still be a decent package all the same.

Cherington should wait for Bailey to re-establish his value, and deal him before the July 31 trade deadline in 2013. All three parties involved will be pleased and benefit from a deal.

Bailey will likely most welcome the move. While there haven't been any reports of him being upset about being demoted to a setup role, there's little doubt that he would like to close again.