Dave Dombrowski has already struck one deal at the Trade Deadline, but don’t expect the aggressive Red Sox GM to stop there.
The Red Sox are always glued to the standings of the American League East, but they should temporarily adjust their eyes to that of the National League. Seemingly every year the Washington Nationals are pegged as the preseason World Series winner, but there’s an annual falter.
At this moment, the Nationals can’t win when Max Scherzer isn’t on the mound and have a superstar that is unlikely to resign, in Bryce Harper. The amount of injuries are piling up and a streak of under-performing players has left the preseason favorites on the outside looking in.
Nationals’ GM, Mike Rizzo, aggressively acquired closer Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals in an effort to bolster their bullpen. However, the move has seemingly backfired as the Nats are spiraling out of postseason contention behind the younger Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
As the Red Sox lost out on the Zach Britton sweepstakes, the move for a reliever seems imminent. Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel have been near-flawless this season, but Joe Kelly‘s struggles are pointing to the need to bolster the unit. Since the beginning of June, Kelly has posted a 9.98 ERA and has a 2.09 WHIP.
Sure, there have been bright spots such as Ryan Brasier and Heath Hembree, but neither reliever has the track record to suggest that the bullpen is built for October as is. The idea of shortening the game is an idea that the Kansas City Royals perfected en route to a World Series crown and hid any shortcomings with their starting rotation behind a dominant bullpen. The Royals starting rotation of Yordano Ventura, Johnny Cueto, and Edinson Volquez is no better than Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello.
Further supporting the claim is the group of Royals’ pitchers from the previous season that nearly won a World Series including Jeremy Guthrie, James Shields, and Jason Vargas. The dominant bullpen is a massive weapon in a championship race and the Red Sox would be wise to utilize the blueprint with a former Royal.
Adding a reliever of Herrera’s caliber would prime the Red Sox for a postseason run into October. No, he’s not a lefty, but the hard throwing reliever has World Series experience and has posted a 1.26 career ERA in the postseason.
Recent news further supported that the Nationals are open to selling:
Sources: The Washington Nationals have started discussions with teams to gauge interest if they decide to sell. Of particular interest are Kelvin Herrera, Shawn Kelley and Ryan Madson, three free-agent-to-be relievers. Nats are telling teams they’ll know by end of weekend.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 26, 2018
The list of premium relievers is slowly beginning to dwindle and Dave Dombrowski would be wise to give the Nationals a call.
Herrera was traded to Washington for two prospects outside of the organization’s Top 10 list and could be had for a reasonable price. Realistically, a deal centered around Bobby Dalbec and Blake Swihart may get a deal done with the Nationals.
Dalbec has been a riser within the system and boasts the third most homeruns in all of the minor leagues, while Swihart would fill a huge hole behind the plate. The Nationals have had one of the worst offensive outputs at catcher of all time.
If the Nationals are willing to recover assets in a deal for the dominant reliever, the Red Sox would be wise to capitalize on the opportunity.