After a strong showing against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox may look to upgrade the weakest link – the bullpen.
The Red Sox have had a history of trading for disgruntled employees, remember Chris Sale‘s internal meltdown with the Chicago White Sox? In Pittsburgh, Keone Kela was recently handed an internal suspension for an altercation with a staff member, and has been suspended once before while with the Pirates.
It was one season ago that the breakout reliever was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Pirates in exchange for the Pirates’ seventh ranked organizational prospect. After the acquisition, Kela posted a sterling 2.93 ERA and formed a solid setup man / closer duo with hard-throwing, Felipe Vazquez. Now, a season later, Kela appears to be on the trade block due to internal issues and a team middling in performance.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox bullpen has been an Achilles’ heel in their attempt to repeat as World Series champions. Last Trade Deadline, Kela was one of the most sought after relievers on the open market due to performance and team control. He is coming off of a shoulder injury that landed him on the 60 Day IL, but may be available for equal market value, or better yet, less than what he was acquired for last season.
With a shallow farm system, and a GM that seems determined to keep the upper-end talent intact, the Red Sox don’t have the luxury of being picky with available options. Regardless of recent injury, or internal issues, Keone Kela would represent an immediate improvement over the likes of Colten Brewer, and others. Additionally, Kela is under contract until 2022 and may be able to step in as a setup man, or closer, when he gets his rhythm back after a long stint on the injured list.
Perhaps a deal centered around an MLB-ready reliever such as Travis Lakins, and a younger, exciting player like Brandon Howlett may entice the Pirates to part ways with their late inning man. As for the internal issues, the best remedy for an unhappy player is simple – winning. The Red Sox hope to do plenty more of that this season, and adding Keone Kela may help solidify a couple more wins for the defending champs.