Whenever dealing with the Trade Deadline, it’s important to see what traits past Red Sox acquisitions have possessed.
As the Trade Deadline nears, it’s become increasingly obvious that the Red Sox are in need of bullpen improvement, or are in a position of need to add quality depth. While an elite option would be the preferred solution, they’ll likely command a prospect package that the Sox couldn’t put together. Dave Dombrowski has a history of being aggressive, but he took more calculated risks last season and he may do it again in 2019.
Many anticipated the Red Sox to make a “big splash” last season, but they took their time and added Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce, and Ian Kinsler. However, this season it’s necessary that Dombrowski make a move to bolster the bullpen.
It’s become a trend within Major League baseball, and specifically with the Houston Astros, which is acquiring relief arms with elite spin rates. Of course, as a former bench coach, Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowski have adopted similar trends. Tyler Thornburg and Colten Brewer are recent bullpen acquisitions – and arm’s that both Cora and Dombrowski have trust in – that possess elite spin rate numbers.
According to Baseball Savant, Brewer ranks 2nd in baseball in average spin rate and Thornburg ranks 21st. While it doesn’t necessarily equate to statistical success (ask Tyler Thornburg), it’s a solid baseline for acquiring those with the correct arsenal to do damage. Take a look at Ryan Pressly, an arm that had a mediocre career with the Twins, before the Astros turned him into an elite arm. Manager A.J. Hinch used his spin rate as a basis for projecting what he could become – and has done just that. Cora has been keen to follow that blueprint and may seek to do so once again during this Trade Deadline.
Utilizing Dombrowski and Cora’s archetypes, let’s take a look at a few potential trade options that the Red Sox could pursue.
Jose Leclerc is a highly intriguing arm for the Texas Rangers. The 25 year old ranks 11th in baseball in average spin rate, but has struggled a bit this season. After posting a 1.56 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP, and a .126 batting average against last year, the young reliever has posted a 4.58 ERA in 2019. While it’s not known whether, or not, the Rangers would be interested in selling, Leclerc represents a trade asset that could bring back prospects for a team middling between contending and a rebuild.
The Rangers’ arm is under team control until 2025, which may make it difficult to pry him away; however it may be worth the benefit for the Boston Red Sox. A potential trade package would likely include various top prospects within the system, but the team control factor may limit risk. As a former AL West bench coach, Cora has familiarity with Leclerc and may be hoping to add him to Boston’s inconsistent bullpen.
As Mets’ fans are aware, the team is a mess which may allow for a couple of assets to be moved, including reliever Seth Lugo. As another top 20 arm in spin rate, the Mets reliever has posted a 2.87 ERA in his first season as a full time reliever. While moving back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, the former 34th round pick has flashed potential.
Monetarily, he has three additional years of arbitration and is not set to reach UFA status until 2023. The value of team control, high spin rate, and solid numbers may peak the interest of Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox. He won’t be inexpensive, but Lugo is a very realistic option that the Sox may seek to add at the Trade Deadline.
It’s not every day that a division rival helps another towards winning a World Series title, but the Red Sox and Blue Jays hooked up on the Steve Pearce deal last season. In 2019, the deal may include a couple of of intriguing names – specifically Aaron Sanchez. The Blue Jays’ starter is a case of a pitcher that has never been able to find consistency in the rotation (5.89 ERA this season) and has the arsenal to dominate as a reliever. A top 35 spin rate, and high upside might peak the divisional rival’s interest.
While Toronto may be hesitant to deal Sanchez, who has documented diminishing trade value, Dave Dombrowski should be willing to make a call. He’d be more of a rental, due to pending free agency in 2021, but the decreasing asking price might benefit a farm system that has had diminishing talent over the past few years. Many teams have turned failed starters with high spin rate into dominant relievers, why don’t the Red Sox take a shot at Aaron Sanchez? It’s a project, but one that may pay out huge dividends.