Red Sox

Ranking the top five MLB free-agent relievers

Red Sox

A bullpen upgrade should be at the top of the Boston Red Sox to-do list this offseason.

Adam Ottavino, Garrett Richards, Martin Perez and Hansel Robles each hit free agency, leaving Boston with some holes to fill. And with Matt Barnes struggling mightily after earning his first All-Star nod, the uncertainty at closer looms large.

More free-agent rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OFSP 

Luckily, there are some talented bullpen arms on the market this winter who should have the Red Sox' attention. Here's a look at the top five relievers available.

5. Aaron Loup, LHP

Age: 34

2021 stats: 6-0, 0.95 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 0 saves, 16 BB, 57 SO (65 appearances)

Loup was one of the game's most reliable relief pitchers in 2021 with the New York Mets. The southpaw wasn't just good against left-handed hitters, either. He held righties to a .211/.250/.257 slash line, proving he's much more than just a left-handed specialist. He'll be in for a bigger payday after signing a modest one-year, $3 million deal last offseason.

UPDATE (Nov. 22): Loup has signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

4. Kendall Graveman, RHP

Age: 31

2021 stats: 5-1, 1.77 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10 saves, 20 BB, 61 SO (53 appearances)

Graveman, formerly a starter with the Oakland A's, emerged as a key reliever for the Seattle Mariners last season. So when the Mariners decided to trade him to the Houston Astros at the deadline, their players were rightfully displeased. Graveman came back down to earth a bit during his time in Houston, but his postseason success was a big reason the Astros were able to make it to the World Series.

 

UPDATE (Nov. 23): Graveman is joining the Chicago White Sox on a three-year deal worth $24 million, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

3. Mark Melancon, RHP

Age: 37

2021 stats: 4-3, 2.23 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 39 saves, 25 BB, 59 SO (64 appearances)

Melancon is getting up there in age but continues to produce at a high level. He was the 2021 league leader in saves with the San Diego Padres and earned the fourth All-Star nod of his 13-year career. Red Sox fans may remember Melancon for his disappointing 2012 season in Boston, but he's been a pretty darn good reliever since then.

UPDATE (Dec. 1): Melancon is signing a two-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

2. Kenley Jansen, RHP

Age: 34

2021 stats: 4-4, 2.22 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 38 saves, 36 BB, 86 SO (69 appearances)

Jansen's days as arguably the best closer in baseball are likely behind him. That said, he's still a damn good pitcher entering his age 34 season. The three-time All-Star posted a 2.22 ERA in 2021 and has never had an ERA at or above 4.00 in his 12-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1. Raisel Iglesias, RHP

Age: 32

2021 stats: 7-5, 2.57 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 34 saves, 12 BB, 103 SO (65 appearances)

Iglesias is the top relief pitcher on this year's free-agent market following a sensational season with the Los Angeles Angels. The soon-to-be 32-year-old posted a ridiculous 13.2 K/9 while walking only 12 batters all year. He has the tendency to give up the long ball (11 homers allowed in 2021) but that shouldn't dissuade teams from paying him a pretty penny this winter.

UPDATE (Nov. 30): Iglesias is re-signing with the Los Angeles Angels on a four-year deal, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal