Red Sox's Top Hypothetical Trade Targets for Early Season ShakeupMay 19, 2022
Red Sox's Top Hypothetical Trade Targets for Early Season Shakeup
The Boston Red Sox have looked nothing like a team poised to buy at the trade deadline in the early going this year, but it's far too early to write them off as sellers, so let's set the stage for them as hypothetical buyers.
The most obvious area in need of immediate upgrade is the bullpen, which ranks 25th in the majors with a 4.19 ERA entering play on Wednesday and has tallied 12 losses with 10 blown saves in 17 chances.
With seven saves on the year recorded by six different pitchers, it's clear they don't have a true shutdown arm to handle ninth-inning duties, and the fact that Garrett Whitlock has moved into the starting rotation has further weakened the relief corps.
Ahead we've highlighted three potential trade targets who can help bolster the bullpen: one blockbuster addition, one low-cost addition and one outside-the-box addition.
Off we go.
Blockbuster Addition: RHP David Bednar
The Pittsburgh Pirates traded right-hander Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres prior to last season in a three-team, seven-player deal, and part of their return was right-handed reliever David Bednar.
In his first season in Pittsburgh, Bednar posted a 2.23 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 11.4 K/9 in 61 appearances while tallying three saves and 13 holds, and he is thriving in the closer's role in the early going this year.
The 27-year-old sports a 1.00 ERA, 0.61 WHIP and 25-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings while nailing down all seven of his save chances and holding opposing hitters to a .131 average and .451 OPS in 15 appearances.
With club control through the 2026 season and another year of pre-arbitration ahead of him, Bednar won't come cheap on the trade market, and teams will be lining up with offers if the Pirates do indeed decide to shop him at any point.
Low-Cost Addition: RHP Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks
A workhorse starter and Cy Young candidate during his prime, Ian Kennedy has reinvented himself as a late-inning reliever, and he found his way back to the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason on a one-year, $4.75 million deal.
The 37-year-old had a 30-save season with the Kansas City Royals in 2019, and he converted 26 of 30 save chances with a 3.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 while splitting last season with the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies last year.
Kennedy has three saves with a 3.45 ERA and a less-than-stellar 10-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 appearances this season, but his late-inning experience would be a welcome addition to the Red Sox bullpen, and the D-backs are likely to be sellers despite a recent run of solid play.
Outside-the-Box Addition: RHP Derek Law, Detroit Tigers
Since turning in a standout rookie season with the San Francisco Giants in 2016, Derek Law has produced mixed results over two more seasons with the Giants, one year with the Toronto Blue Jays, and a brief stint with the Minnesota Twins last year.
All told, the 31-year-old has a 4.22 ERA with 10 saves in 176 career appearances, and he is currently pitching for the Detroit Tigers Triple-A affiliate after signing a minor league deal during the offseason.
So why are we talking about him?
In 10 appearances so far for Triple-A Toledo, he has yet to allow a run while racking up 17 strikeouts in 13.2 scoreless frames, and he has converted five save opportunities along the way.
The Tigers have quietly had one of the best bullpens in baseball this year or he might have already been called up to the majors. And for a young team on the rise that doesn't look ready to contend quite yet, flipping him for anything of value would be a win.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Tuesday's games.