While Nathan Eovaldi has been slated to become Boston’s closer, the Red Sox continue to monitor the closer market, with MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi (via Twitter) reporting that the Sox have “active interest” in the Blue Jays’ Ken Giles and the Padres’ Kirby Yates.
The bullpen has been seen as a longstanding problem for the Sox dating back to the offseason, when the team seemed content to let Craig Kimbrel leave in free agency and then more or less stand pat with its relief options. That strategy has resulted in some pretty inconsistent results from the Red Sox pen this season, with Eovaldi’s recent role change seen as a two birds-with-one stone idea that would both help preserve Eovaldi’s elbow and get him back on a mound quicker, and also address Boston’s need for a stable closer.
Of course, Eovaldi has no experience closing games, so it makes sense that the Sox would at least be checking into options like Yates and Giles to see if another move was possible. That said, there are a lot of obstacles standing in the way of a trade for either closer. The Jays have a big asking price on Giles, while the Padres would reportedly only trade Yates for “an overwhelming offer.” Ergo, acquiring either right-hander would require the Sox to dig deep into an already-thin farm system.
In a pure bidding war for young minor leaguers, it seems unlikely that the Sox would be able to outbid most other interested suitors for either Giles or Yates, and their normal financial might (in terms of taking on money to accommodate trades) is limited by the team’s close proximity to the top luxury tax threshold of $246MM. Neither Giles or Yates are on particularly big salaries, though every dollar counts considering Roster Resource has Boston’s luxury tax number at just under $244MM.
While high-profile trades between division rivals are usually pretty rare, the Red Sox and Blue Jays combined on a notable deal just last summer, when the Sox acquired future World Series MVP from Toronto. By contrast, one wonders if the Sox could actually have a tougher time completing a trade with the Padres given the controversy that erupted between the two clubs over the Drew Pomeranz deal in July 2016. That said, San Diego and Boston have combined on one swap since the Pomeranz trade, the relatively minor deal last November that saw Colten Brewer go to the Sox.
If nothing else, Boston’s interest in Giles and Yates indicates that the team still sees itself as a contender and a buyer at the trade deadline. At this point, however, it seems like the Sox are vying only for a wild card spot, as Boston sits 11 games behind the Yankees in the AL East race. The Red Sox are three games behind Oakland for the final AL wild card berth, and with a tough road to travel just to get to a one-game playoff, there has been some suggestion (from both the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham and MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that the Sox should consider trading some veterans to unload salary and restock on young talent for another run in 2020.
Boston’s next 14 games are all against either the Yankees or the Rays, with eight of those games coming before the July 31 trade deadline. Both Abraham and Cotillo cite this upcoming stretch as the potential turning point of the Red Sox season, with Abraham describing the team’s July 29 off-day as “the organization’s deadline to decide whether this season is worth trying to save.”