5:32pm: GM Theo Epstein told reporters, including Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have made "a number" of offers to free agent relievers, some left-handed, some right-handed.
4:36pm: Like the Reds and Phillies, the Red Sox have some interest in Arthur Rhodes, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The lefty does not appear to be close to deciding on his next team.
2:24am: Signing Type A relievers and surrendering a draft pick is a risky proposition, as the swings in any reliever's performance from year-to-year can be wild, and they simply don't impact a large amount of innings over the course of a season.
WEEI.com's Alex Speier tells us that may not stop the Red Sox from pursuing Scott Downs, however, despite the fact that he'd cost Boston a first-round pick. Speier's source also says that the club wouldn't give up a pick to sign Grant Balfour to the multi-year deal he's seeking, and he cites multiple industry sources saying the club is interested in Matt Guerrier after the Twins declined to offer him arbitration.
As Speier points out, Downs has some of the most dominant numbers in history for a reliever during his age 31-34 seasons, and the Red Sox have taken note of the division rival's excellence. Since 2007, Downs has compiled a 2.36 ERA with a 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over 236 2/3 innings, while being a stickler for home runs (0.5 HR/9). He's been a menace to left-handed hitters, but it's worth noting that the highest OPS right-handers have managed off him in that timeframe is .643.
Guerrier, 32, has appeared in 70 or more innings every year since his first full season in 2005, with the exception of 2006 — when he came one out short of the mark. While his career peripherals (5.9 K/9, 45.7% GB%, 4.44 FIP) don't dazzle, Guerrier has managed to out-perform them year-in and year-out. He's led the league in appearances twice (2008 and 2009) and has a career ERA of 3.38 to his name to go along with solid control (2.8 BB/9).
Epstein said Monday that the Red Sox will acquire multiple relievers via trade or free agency, but as he points out in this quote relayed from Speier, teams may be waiting for some distance from the Joaquin Benoit signing:
“Sometimes when there’s a contract that exceeds expectations early, it can embolden players and agents within that subset of players who have a similar resume,” said Epstein. “Time will tell whether they get attached to that contract or it’s an outlier contract.”
The Red Sox haven't surrendered a draft pick to sign a reliever since 2004 with Keith Foulke, but Downs could change that trend, especially if the Red Sox end up receiving additional first-round and supplemental picks for the departures of Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Felipe Lopez.