Leandre: Best Trade Target You’ve Never Heard of

(Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson - USA TODAY Sports)

Contrary to what statistics might tell you, the Boston Red Sox bullpen is far from intimidating to opposing lineups.

Yes, according to Fangraphs they are a top-10 bullpen in terms of WAR, as well as top-10 in many other stats that would indicate a bullpen their manager and fan base should trust, right?

Not quite. While the Red Sox are busy contending for top spots in a handful of stat categories, the big thing that’s infuriated Red Sox Nation as a whole has been the blown save department –– where they have registered 15 (third-worst in the majors).

Many have taken to social media to voice their desire for Dave Dombrowski to acquire one of the premier closers on the market. A Shane Greene, Will Smith, or even a Felipe Vazquez. Anything, just anything to restore a little bit of order in the later stages of a ballgame.

However, what many fans are forgetting is that the Boston farm system has been almost completely gutted –– as elite names like Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Mauricio Dubon have all seen themselves out and onto other endeavors. So, a farm system ranked in the cellars of MLB Pipeline is likely not going to pool enough ammunition together to beat out other contending teams looking for that extra arm to get over the hump.

So, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski is going to need to improvise in order to address the issue with this bullpen.

And, believe it or not, one of the better relievers in the game may be someone you’ve never heard of. In fact, he is tearing it up in Seattle –– which is also one of baseball’s worst bullpens.

Even though you’ve never heard of him, that doesn’t make 28-year-old right-hander Austin Adams a pitcher the Red Sox should shy away from. In fact, given the fact the Mariners are in an all-out fire sale, there’s a strong chance they’re willing to part with just about anyone.

Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto is going to need to take a good, long look in the mirror if he thinks a 28-year-old reliever is going to want to stick it out for the rebuild.

But why should Austin Adams be the prime target for Dombrowski this summer?

For starters, the proof is in the pudding. In 15 relief appearances for Seattle, Adams has an ERA of 1.50, a FIP of 1.46, and an xFIP of 1.82. If he were qualified for any of those statistics, he’d be placed 14th, third, and second respectively among relievers.

But on top of those three stats, Adams also possesses 15.5 K/9, while also stranding 87.3 percent of his runners as a reliever this season. All of this while pitching 13.2 out of his 18 relief innings in the seventh or eighth of a ballgame.

It’s not every day you get to pluck one of the better relievers in baseball for a presumptive low cost. However, should the Red Sox pull the trigger on a deal for Austin Adams, they will be doing just that.

But why would they want another guy who hasn’t proven he can pitch in the ninth inning?

The Red Sox made it evidently clear in the first series of the season that they will not be using a set closer for the 2019 season. In fact, six different relief pitchers have recorded a save for the Red Sox this season. However, the 53.1 percent save-percentage is going to need to improve if Boston wants any chance at repeating as World Series Champions.

What Adams does is provide an extra arm that allows Alex Cora to use his closer by committee a little more wisely. Instead of Josh A. Smith or Heath Hembree getting save opportunities, Cora could use Barnes, Brasier, Workman, or even Adams in a lot more favorable matchups to try and bridge the game from start to close.

Adams might be one of the best relievers on the trade market this summer, and you more than likely have never even heard of him.


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