It’s “believed” that free-agent reliever Adam Ottavino is near the top of Boston’s bullpen wish list, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. The same is true of the previously reported David Robertson, per Heyman. With closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joe Kelly as their best remaining free agents, it’s no surprise that the world champion Red Sox are exploring the top of the market for bullpen help. Those two led full-time Red Sox relievers in innings pitched last season, and Kimbrel was particularly effective. The 33-year-old Ottavino may have been even better, though, as the former Rockie was among the game’s elite relievers in 2018 despite having to pitch his home games at the hitter-friendly Coors Field. Ottavino placed fourth among relievers in average exit velocity against (84.9 mph), sixth in fWAR (2.0), 11th in K/9 (12.98, against 4.17 BB/9), 13th in innings (77 2/3) and 17th in ERA (2.43), putting himself in position to score a lucrative contract in free agency.
More on the pitching market…
- Free-agent left-hander Yusei Kikuchi “really likes” San Francisco and “might” have the Giants atop his list of preferred teams, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hears. The Giants, for their part, seem interested in landing the 27-year-old Kikuchi, who’s poised to immigrate to the majors after starring in his native Japan. Kikuchi’s soon-to-be former employer, the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, posted him for MLB clubs Dec. 2, giving him until Jan. 2 to sign. The Giants look like as logical a fit for Kikuchi as any team, given the short- and long-term uncertainty throughout their rotation.
- As the Giants wait to see what happens with Kikuchi, they’ve “checked in on” free-agent righty Tyson Ross, Schulman tweets, though he suggests a signing is hardly imminent. The Bay Area is familiar to Ross, a Berkeley, Calif., native who pitched for the Athletics earlier in his career. The 31-year-old divided last season between San Diego and St. Louis and posted a 4.15 ERA/4.39 FIP with 7.34 K/9, 3.73 BB/9 and a 45.9 percent groundball rate in 149 2/3 innings (31 appearances, 23 starts). It was Ross’ first fairly healthy season since he underwent the dreaded thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2016.
- The pitching-needy Rangers have interest in re-signing lefty Martin Perez and righty Adrian Sampson, according to TR Sullivan of MLB.com. Texas moved on from both hurlers last month, at least temporarily, as it declined Perez’s $7.5MM option in favor of a $1MM buyout and non-tendered Sampson. Perez, 27, has been a passable back-end starter at times, but he endured a horrid 2018. Sampson, also 27, hasn’t experienced much big league success over a limited sample of work (27 2/3 innings). He spent most of last season at the Triple-A level.