Adam Ottavino Signing Could Change Course of Sox-Yanks Rivalry

Adam Ottavino Signing Could Change Course of Sox-Yanks Rivalry

by January 21, 2019 0 comments

Although they couldn’t reel in David Robertson, the New York Yankees essentially got the next best thing in Adam Ottavino. Despite his struggles in 2017, the former Northeastern Husky has been among the game’s best setup men since 2013. Last season was his best yet, posting a 2.43 ERA, 0.991 WHIP, and a career-high 13.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

But his signing with New York could have greater ramifications than simply filling the hole Robertson left when he signed with Philadelphia. Following Ottavino’s signing, the free agent reliever market essentially shrunk down to one pitcher who can be the elite reliever the Red Sox need to finish off games: Craig Kimbrel. There are certainly other names—like Greg Holland, Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger, and several more—but none that can be that shutdown pitcher in the eighth or ninth, whether by way of aging, health or the naturally short shelf life of relievers. One or two of these relievers would certainly be a nice addition, but unless Dave Dombrowski plans to roll with Ryan Brasier or Matt Barnes at closer, he needs to sign someone.

Once again, enter Kimbrel. The problem isn’t his ability—as much as he put all of Red Sox Nation in the ER due to either stroke or heart attack with his postseason roller coaster rides. He simply wants too much money from a team that will have to cut some major checks in the coming off-season and beyond to Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, assuming he opts out and the Red Sox intends to keep all four players.

So, if the Red Sox sign Kimbrel to a big money contract that goes beyond 2019—which is likely what it would take to sign him—Boston essentially shrinks its World Series window to 2019. The Red Sox can win the whole thing without Kimbrel, as much as he helps. Without at least three of the Betts, Sale, Bogaerts, and Martinez group, though, may be too tall a task given how the Yankees are constructed.

This is all assuming, of course, Red Sox ownership has Dave Dombrowski on a budget. The luxury tax has been an on-and-off thing for them—mostly on—and if ownership is still hard on that cap, then signing Kimbrel to the type of deal he’s looking for could morph the Red Sox into something entirely different.

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