Edwin Diaz

Turns out Red Sox didn't need Edwin Diaz after all, because bullpen suddenly boasts legit weapons

Turns out Red Sox didn't need Edwin Diaz after all, because bullpen suddenly boasts legit weapons

BOSTON -- Barely a month ago, we were supposed to seriously entertain the question of whether the Red Sox should trade Andrew Benintendi to the Mets for closer Edwin Diaz.

Those of us with some common sense noted that potential All-Star outfielders, even ones in the middle of relatively down seasons such as Benintendi, should never, under any circumstances, be traded for a reliever. After failing to acquire a single bullpen arm at the trade deadline, Red Sox boss Dave Dombrowski insisted that the relief corps was better than we thought.

Six weeks later, with Diaz blowing saves left and right -- his latest a tying two-run homer to Philly's J.T. Realmuto on Friday in a game the Mets won anyway -- it's worth noting that the Red Sox bullpen has actually turned out to be pretty good, with a number of young arms emerging as viable options for Alex Cora's 2020 pen.

(Before we go any further, this does *not* change the fact that shoddy relief put the Red Sox in an early hole from which they never really extricated themselves. The time to address their relief shortcomings was June; had the relievers pitched like this all season, we wouldn't be looking at a missed playoff berth.)

Those arms were on display on Friday, when manager Alex Cora rode seven pitchers who weren't even on the Opening Day roster to a 6-1 victory over the Yankees. It just further cemented the team's commitment to bullpenning to the finish line, and it turns out there may be a silver lining to rostering 21 arms, because the Red Sox have unearthed some potential contributors.

First and foremost, there's left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez. A starter throughout the minors, the 22-year-old shifted to the bullpen this summer and has made a legitimate impact.

A National League scout who has evaluated him at three different levels this season was concise in his assessment.
"Wow," he said. "Wow. His stuff really plays in the bullpen. He doesn't have to worry about setting guys up for the second or third time through the order. He's just attacking."

While command can be an issue -- and certainly was as a starter in the minors -- Hernandez's stuff is absurd. He tossed a scoreless inning on Friday night Yankees and entered the day with 62 swings and misses within the strike zone, which suggests dominance.

He pairs a 97-99 mph fastball with a sharp slider and has struck out 55 in only 29.2 innings, or nearly 17 per nine. He has mostly shelved the curveball and changeup he needed as a starter, living primarily on his dominating fastball, which has overwhelmed left-handed hitters, in particular.

"I like this guy," Cora said recently. "I like what he's doing right now. Obviously we'll talk about it in the offseason but right now, he's one of the high-leverage relievers on our team. He's a guy who can get lefties and righties out. He has a good mix and he's actually enjoying it. He likes it. He's up to the challenge. He's durable too. Obviously, you have to be careful because there's more than this year. This guys is a big part of what we're trying to do as an organization and be consistent every year and compete for a World Series and he's part of that."

He's not alone. Left-hander Josh Taylor, acquired from the Diamondbacks as a player to be named later last season for light-hitting shortstop Deven Marrero, has taken his opportunity and run with it. He doesn't throw quite as hard as Hernandez, but he's consistently 94-96 mph and with a scoreless inning on Friday, he dropped his ERA below 3.00 to 2.93.

Not bad for an undrafted free agent already in his third organization at age 26.

Add Marcus Walden, another success story despite being a 30-year-old rookie who kicked around the minors for 12 years, and the bullpen looks like it has some workable pieces for 2020. The aforementioned trio has earned Cora's trust alongside veterans Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman, which means a case can be made that the Red Sox really only need to add one high-leverage pitcher this winter, be it a closer or setup man.

Edwin Diaz? Who needs him. Since his name entered trade rumors in late July, the former Mariners All-Star has posted an ERA slightly over 9.00 and blown three saves, including New York's most crushing loss of the year when he served up the walk-off, three-run homer to Washington this week.

It doesn't take Andrew Benintendi to patch a bullpen, just some patience.

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MLB trade deadline live: Tracking the latest rumors, news and deals

MLB trade deadline live: Tracking the latest rumors, news and deals

MLB trade deadline day is upon us, and if Tuesday night was any indication, things could get interesting.

We already saw one surprise trade, as the Cleveland Indians shipped pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds for a package including outfielder Yasiel Puig -- who inserted himself into a wild brawl as the deal went down.

There are plenty more big names available and questions to be answered for teams like the Boston Red Sox, who reportedly are pursuing a reliever but may stop short of landing New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz.

The official deadline is Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, and with no waiver period to follow, this is the last chance teams have to make moves before the playoffs.

We've got you covered below with the latest trade deadline rumblings, which we'll update throughout the day as deals come through. (All times Eastern.)

4:20 p.m.: We're still not done! The Minnesota Twins reportedly have acquired a possible Red Sox relief target in Sam Dyson, while Scooter Gennett is headed to the Giants.

4:15 p.m.: The Houston Astros just landed one of the best pitchers in baseball in Zack Greinke.

Oh, and they're also adding Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini.

4:10 p.m.: It won't be a wholly uneventful trade deadline, as some pretty big moves are coming down after the 4 p.m. buzzer.

4:07 p.m.: Hey, the Yankees made a move!

4:05 p.m.: The Red Sox aren't the only team staying quiet, it seems. Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler and Felipe Vazquez reportely all are staying put.

3:51 p.m.: It looks like it'll be a quiet deadline day for Dave Dombrowski. 

3:42 p.m.: Another former Red Sox reliever is on the move, per ESPN's Buster Olney.

3:15 p.m.: The Atlanta Braves are closing in on top bullpen target Shane Greene, per Ken Rosenthal.

2:45 p.m.: Could Zack Wheeler be headed to an AL contender?

2:30 p.m.: The Oakland Athletics, currently clinging to an AL Wild Card spot, have bolstered their rotation.

2:28 p.m.: Former Red Sox pitcher Drew Pomeranz reportedly is headed to the Brewers.

2:15 p.m.: The deals are starting to come in, as the Nationals also added former Red Sox reliever Roenis Elias, per Joel Sherman of the New York post.

1:56 p.m.: One Red Sox target is off the board, as the Washington Nationals have added to their bullpen depth by trading for Blue Jays righty Daniel Hudson.

1:50 p.m.: The Yankees reportedly are still in on some very big names.

1:09 p.m.: Another AL contender is making some minor moves before the deadline, as the Astros have added catcher Martin Maldonado from the Cubs, sending utilityman Tony Kemp to Chicago.

12:25 p.m.: The Rays bolstered their offense by trading for first baseman Jesus Aguilar from the Brewers. Aguilar hit 35 home runs last season for Milwaukee and participated in the Home Run Derby, but he's batting just .225 this season. He has heated up recently, batting .298 with a .921 OPS this month.

12 p.m.: The Red Sox are "intrigued" by Giants All-Star closer Will Smith, according to The Boston Sports Journal's Sean McAdam -- but may be scared off by his price tag.

11:47 a.m.: Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, meanwhile, is very much on the trade market, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

11:20 a.m.: Looks like Noah Syndergaard is, in fact, staying put.

11:02 a.m.: It's possible Mets ace Noah Syndergaard stays put today, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

11 a.m.: Another interesting tidbit from Ken Rosenthal's notebook: He spoke to an executive who wondered if the Yankees might get "shut out" at the deadline.

USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale also reports New York isn't close to landing a starter as of Wednesday morning:

8:53 a.m.: Edwin Diaz blew another save for the Mets on Tuesday night, and the Red Sox apparently are wary of his recent struggles.

8:45 a.m.: The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has the latest on Boston's quest to find a reliever in his Wednesday morning notebook:

The Red Sox also are casting a wide net for relievers – they are looking at Andrew Chafin, according to Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal, and according to sources also have asked about (Toronto Blue Jays reliever Daniel) Hudson.

Per Rosenthal, Hudson also is on the Washington Nationals' wishlist.

8:40 a.m.: The Red Sox are one of the eight teams on Madison Bumgarner's no-trade list, although they're unlikely to pursue the Giants ace.

7:30 a.m.: All-Star Padres closer Kirby Yates is a potential option for the Red Sox ... unless San Diego decides to keep him.

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Red Sox out on Edwin Diaz? Mets reportedly may not trade closer

Red Sox out on Edwin Diaz? Mets reportedly may not trade closer

It appears no one will win the Edwin Diaz sweepstakes.

The current "belief" is that the New York Mets won't trade their closer before the MLB trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports.

Diaz had garnered interested from several teams -- including the Boston Red Sox -- and was considered one of the biggest names on the 2019 trade market after a 2018 All-Star campaign in which he led the league in saves with 57.

But the 25-year-old closer is having an abysmal season for the Mets that hit a new low Tuesday, when his fifth blown save ballooned his ERA to 5.05.

Heyman reported earlier Wednesday the Red Sox were "not overly impressed" with Diaz so far this season, and it seems other clubs have come to the same conclusion.

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