With Bruce Rondon proving himself to be a bit of a wild card (pun intended) in terms of his closing capabilities for 2013, the Detroit Tigers could look to acquire Andrew Bailey from the Boston Red Sox to solidify the back end of the bullpen.
Rondon's potential as a flame-throwing closer is what allowed the Tigers to let closer Jose Valverde walk in free agency, and Valverde is still without a new team with spring training in full swing.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests that Valverde could still be an option for the Tigers, while also recognizing the possibility of a fit between Bailey and the Tigers—though no contact has been made between the two clubs as of yet.
Manager Jim Leyland has made it clear though, that the Tigers are not interested in re-signing Valverde. That either leaves him with Rondon or a pitcher on the trade market.
Bailey, while never explicitly said to be on the market, could very well be available for the right price.
Bailey was displaced from the closer's role this offseason when general manager Ben Cherington acquired Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates. When acquired last offseason, Bailey was given the task of beginning the post-Jonathan Papelbon era in Boston, but Injuries prevented that from happening in 2012, and now Hanrahan's presence will prevent that from happening in 2013.
If the Red Sox chose to trade him, then there will undoubtedly be plenty of suitors. Bailey was the American League Rookie of the Year for the Oakland Athletics in 2009, saving 26 games and posting a 1.84 ERA.
The Tigers would be wise to look into acquiring his services.
First of all, Bailey will be a free agent after the 2015 season. On a team that has the potential to compete right now, thrusting a wild Rondon into the closer's role could really inhibit the team's chances at a title.
Bailey can help the team win now, while also giving Rondon plenty of time to develop. Whether that development comes in Triple-A Toledo or in a setup role will be up to Leyland and Detroit's upper management, but Rondon would do well to pitch in a lesser role until he's ready.
Who do you want closing in Detroit in 2013?
For three seasons of a pitcher that is just two seasons removed from back-to-back All-Star appearances, the Tigers would have to give up some pretty good talent.
The package may not have to be as valuable as the one that pried him away from Oakland prior to last season (Josh Reddick headlined that deal), but it would have to be strong all the same.
Brennan Boesch could get talks started. The acquisition of Torii Hunter and the health of Victor Martinez have left Boesch without a clear role on the team, making him expendable moving forward.
The Red Sox will either play Jonny Gomes or Daniel Nava in left field. Boesch would be a small improvement over both.
After Boesch, a prospect like left-handed pitcher Casey Crosby could be just enough to get a deal done. Crosby profiles as a mid-rotation innings eater, a valuable commodity that many teams would love to have.
The Tigers and Red Sox match up very well in a potential trade for Bailey. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski should give Cherington a call and get a deal done before the regular season starts at the end of the month.