When Brandon Workman lost an eighth inning lead on Thursday, it went in the books as Boston’s 18th blown save of the season, most in the American League.
Yes, the Red Sox still need serious relief help. No, Nathan Eovaldi won’t be the savior alone. If the Sox want to make a serious run at repeating as World Series champs, it’s on Dave Dombrowski to bolster the bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline.
Here are seven relievers that would immediately help the leaky ‘pen:
Will Smith, LHP, Giants
Status: Rental ($4.2 million, FA after 2019)
With San Francisco an obvious seller, Smith is the best arm that’ll definitely be available on the trade market. The All-Star closer has a 2.10 ERA, 0.786 WHIP, and has converted 22 of 22 save opportunities. A southpaw, Smith would also give the right-handed-heavy Red Sox an entirely different look on the back end.
Shane Greene, RHP, Tigers
Non-Rental ($4 million, Arb 3 after 2019)
Detroit’s lone All-Star, Dombrowski is very familiar with the name Shane Greene. The Red Sox architect traded Didi Gregorius for him in a three-team deal when he was with the Tigers back in 2014. Reliant on a two-seamer and cutter, the biggest concern with Greene is this season’s small sample size. Though he boasts a 1.09 ERA and 0.879 WHIP, those numbers sit at 4.56 and 1.345 for his career.
Greg Holland, RHP, Diamondbacks
Status: Rental ($3.25 million, FA after 2019)
Once a lights out arm for the Royals, Holland is in the midst of his best season since leaving Kansas City. The veteran has blown two saves to open July, but would still be an upgrade for the Sox. Will he be available though? Sitting right around .500, the Diamondbacks are flirting with an NL Wild Card spot. The next three weeks are sure to dictate their deadline plans.
Ken Giles, RHP, Blue Jays
Status: Non-rental ($6.3 million, Arb 3 after 2019)
Alex Cora knows this reliever quite well, as Giles won a World Series with the Astros when he was the bench coach down there. In the midst of a bounce-back 2019, Giles’ 1.45 ERA is strikingly better than the 4.65 he posted between Houston and Toronto last season. The Jays will be another obvious seller and don’t hesitate to trade with the Sox. See: Pearce, Steve.
Sean Doolittle, LHP, Nationals
Status: Non-rental ($6 million, team option for 2020)
The only solid arm in Washington’s bullpen, Doolittle hasn’t been able to replicate his All-Star 2018, but he’d still be the best arm in Boston. A lefty like Smith, Doolittle would also help to give the Sox ‘pen a different look. How many righties with mid-90s fastballs and a breaking ball are out there right now?
David Hernandez RHP, Reds
Rental ($2.5 million, FA after 2019)
The bargain basement arm on the list, Hernandez’s traditional numbers don’t scream “trade for me” at 2-5 with a 5.35 ERA, but a deeper dive reveals he could be a diamond in the rough. Hernandez’s 2.50 FIP (fielding independent pitching) shows the reliever has deserved a better fate than he’s gotten, and he’s striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings.
Kirby Yates, RHP, Padres
Status: Non-rental ($3 million, Arb 3 after 2019)
Certainly the costliest player on this list, no reliever in baseball has been better than Yates in 2019. His 2.0 WAR is tops in the majors. Adding a nasty splitter to his arsenal made Yates a whole new pitcher in 2017, and this season he’s converted 28 of 29 save opportunities in the Padres bullpen. He’d be a huge lift, but is likely too expensive.
*All stats are as of Saturday afternoon
Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason