Today we wrote about how the Red Sox
priority has to be finishing off the construction of the bullpen. With some uncertainty involving the starting rotation, it would seem to make sense to have as good a read on the relievers heading into the season as possible.
(To read the entire column, click here.)
So far, this is what we know …
– Koji Uehara will come in as closer.
– Edward Mujica (he of the 1.78 ERA in his 79 post-All-Star break appearances) will join Junichi Tazawa as the primary set-up men.
– If Craig Breslow‘s ’14 is, indeed, an aberration he also enters into that group.
– Brandon Workman should get every opportunity to become the factor he was at the end of ’13.
– Newly-acquired Anthony Varvaro almost certainly will be in the equation as a viable ground ball-inducer, heading to camp out of options.
That’s six. There would seem to be room for one more.
Last Opening Day, the only differences in the group were the presence of Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller. (Breslow started the year on the disabled list.)
While Varvaro might be viewed as a cheaper replacement for Badenhop (although the jack-of-all-trades free agent would seemingly still be valuable fit if re-signed), the Sox would seemingly be down one lefty. There are still free agent options (Phil Coke, Neal Cotts, Joe Beimel among them).
But this might be a spot the Sox look to fix with an internal option. For this very reason, the Drake Britton vs. Tommy Layne camp competition will be something to watch. If Britton impresses to the level which he did until the very end of spring training last year, he would certainly have the upper-hand considering 25 year old is out of options.
(As a quick aside, here are the players who are – or will be – on the 40-man roster and out of options: Varvaro, Britton, Breslow, Mujica and Daniel Nava.)
That would still seemingly leave one spot to find an impact arm, via promotion, trade or free agency. Matt Barnes might be an interesting option, although it is unclear if the Red Sox plan on continuing him down the road of a starter for the ’15 season. With options, he likes of Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar and newly-acquired Zeke Spruill would have to separate themselves dramatically in camp to have a shot at opening with the big club.
Of the free agents, Badenhop might be the best option/fit. But one of an intriguing group just might slip through the cracks and add an unexpected element to this group …
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