The Red Sox’ offseason forays are likely to be focused on pitching, unless they decide to reshape their offense with an eye on perhaps setting themselves up for the future with players who are further away from free agency — and there’s no indication they’re going to act that way. The Sox could be in a position to wait out some relievers as well, although president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has been known to move quickly when he has a target. But he first, of course, has to have a target.
Here — speculatively, and in no particular order — are five free agents the Red Sox could make a run at as they fill out a bullpen that may lose Craig Kimbrel.
1. Adam Ottavino. Take the Brooklyn kid and bring him to Boston. As far as upside goes, Ottavino has as much as anyone. Entering his age-33 season, the righty struck out 13 per nine innings in 2018. His walks can be problematic, and the Sox would hope that he’d perform more like he did in the first half this year with the Rockies (1.62 ERA, 18 walks, 44 1/3 innings) than the second (3.51 ERA, 18 walks, 33 1/3 innings).
2. Kelvin Herrera. Had the Red Sox lost the World Series, we could be talking about Herrera as the one who got away — and also, maybe, a crisis averted. The Sox had a deal with the Nats for the hard-throwing righty at the trade deadline, and Nats ownership decided not to move him. Shortly after the deadline, Herrera tore a ligament in his left foot. Who knows what would have happened had the Sox acquired him, but if they’re losing one power arm in Craig Kimbrel, Herrera is a way to replace at least the velocity. His fastball sits at 97 mph.
3. Zach Britton. For two years now, Zach Britton’s been walking a lot of hitters, more than four per nine innings. If the Red Sox think they can help him cut those down, then entering his age-31 season, he almost represents a potential buy-low candidate. Plus, he’s at least familiar with the division.
4. Jeurys Familia. Familia isn’t the best relief option out there but he does represent something of a known quantity. At 29, he’s also on the younger side among the more established names being thrown around, with closer experience.
5. Joe Kelly. He’s not under the radar. But Kelly wants to be in Boston and the Sox want him back, and the sides have been in touch. There’s a greater likelihood that the Sox and Kelly get something done than the Sox and Kimbrel, and a reprise feels like a natural move after Kelly grew in Boston — his fan base grew as well, following a fun night with Tyler Austin.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.