It’s become increasingly clear that the Red Sox are going to need bullpen help as the deadline nears.

Caution: It’s that time of year…trade talk will flood your respective timeline as the Trade Deadline is nearing for the Boston Red Sox. To say this season hasn’t gone as planned may be a bit of an understatement. The defending World Series champions have been plagued by a myriad of inconsistencies starting with the rotation and concluding with a bullpen that was worsened before the season began.

While the starting rotation has been a bit inconsistent, Chris Sale has seemingly evaded early season struggles, while the absence of Nathan Eovaldi has loomed large and led to many bullpen games – a less than ideal situation. As of now, it doesn’t seem like the Red Sox will, or need to, address the rotation; however the bullpen is a different animal. Outside of Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, and Heath Hembree, the bullpen has been filled with inconsistencies – which has even plagued the more reliable options.

Craig Kimbrel has been signed, and the available premier bullpen options will come at a pretty penny. However the Red Sox will need to make the internal decision to either go “all in” with a team that is made to win now, or wait out the storm and hope to find consistency. If we’ve learned anything about Dave Dombrowski, he has a track record of throwing caution to the wind in an effort to make a sizable upgrade. For the sake of discussion, let’s take a look at the Red Sox making a huge splash as the Trade Deadline.


Red Sox acquire: LHP Felipe Vazquez from Pittsburgh

Pirates acquire: 1B Bobby Dalbec / RHP Bryan Mata / OF Cole Brannen

Why It Would Work:

From the Red Sox perspective, this would be an ideal “win now” acquisition by grabbing one of baseball’s premier arms. In return, the Sox would be parting way with two of their most prized prospects, as well as a former second round pick. The return on this deal would be a direct parallel to what the San Diego Padres received in the Craig Kimbrel deal (Manuel Margot, Logan Allen, and Carlos Asuaje). Dalbec (#2 in the Sox system) has a Major League ready bat, while Mata (#7) is having a breakout campaign for Salem (1.79 ERA). Cole Brannen (Unranked, previously #6) was the Red Sox second round pick in 2017, but has struggled to find consistency in Greenville. Perhaps a change of scenery would benefit the struggling prospect.

The Pirates find themselves four games under .500 and looking upwards to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs – two teams that Pittsburgh will not be catching. After parting ways with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows for Chris Archer, the Pirates would be restocking their farm system even if that means parting ways with one of the game’s best ninth inning men.

While the price may seem steep, the Red Sox would be acquiring their closer for the next few seasons – and an elite option at that. If the price gets higher, it still may not be out of the realm of possibilities with Dave Dombrowski’s track record.

Why It Would Fall Through:

If the Pirates are willing to deal Vazquez (which is a big if), they would have multiple suitors that could put together a better prospect package for their closer. As none of the mentioned prospects are within MLB’s Top 100, it’s possible that they would command a larger haul or wait for a better offer. Additionally, he was recently inked to a 4 year / $22.5 million extension last season and may be considered a cornerstone piece of their franchise. The Pirates aren’t eliminated from contention by any means, and could certainly seek to add talent; however if the Red Sox made a strong offer he may be had.

The Red Sox cap space issues may additionally limit a potential deal. As mentioned, Vazquez recently signed an extension, but his deal would be seen as a massive plus side for the Sox. Additionally, a depleted farm system would grow increasingly thin if the defending World Series champions were to go all in for one of baseball’s best relievers.

There’s no telling whether, or not, the Red Sox would be interested in adding a premier bullpen piece, but if they’re going to make a splash Felipe Vazquez would be a tremendous investment.