Things aren’t looking good for the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox have dropped five straight, and the Tampa Bay Rays’ once-seemingly insurmountable odds of usurping Boston’s wild card spot have significantly improved—the Rays now sit just three games back with 16 to play, and they’ve got the momentum. Even David Ortiz is worried:
“At this point,” Ortiz added, “you panic. Hell yeah. You’ve got to panic at this point. But you’re not going to do anything panicking but [instead by] playing better.
“Of course you’re freaked out. You go on this road trip 1-6, it’s not good. We’ve got these guys breathing down our necks and we’re not in first place either. We’ve got to come back and play better.”
The Sox’ biggest problem is pitching. As WEEI.com’s Alex Speier noted, Boston’s relievers have pitched as many innings as their starters this month, and they’ve done so to the tune of a 6.43 ERA. A sturdy veteran to provide reinforcement for their beat-up bullpen corps could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Might they be interested in Chad Durbin?
Now that the Cleveland Indians are effectively out of the AL Central race, it makes sense for them to at least explore the idea of trading Durbin. The 33-year-old right hander has a mediocre 4.90 ERA this year, but he also has a 3.73 FIP and a 3.41 SIERA with a 2.6 K/BB ratio in 60.2 innings for the Indians this year.
September trades are rare and difficult to pull off—players must pass through waivers and they are ineligible to be placed on postseason rosters—but since Durbin is a dependable complementary piece and he’s owed only about $100,000 before his contract expires at the end of the season, he would definitely be a useful part for the stretch run.
The Red Sox could certainly use him—they’re still the favorites to take the wild card, but with each passing day a collapse seems more likely, and the battered bullpen is a big reason why. It’s hard to see the team’s bigwigs or fans getting excited about acquiring a two-week rent-a-player who won’t be on the playoff roster, but for now just making it to October has to be priority No. 1.
Durbin is an especially good fit for Boston because of his durability. He’s not just a single-inning guy; this year alone he’s made 17 appearances of more than one inning, including 13 of at least two innings. They haven’t just been throwaway outings, either—in six outings when he’s gone more than two innings, he has a lights-out 1.69 ERA.
There’s no way Durbin could single-handedly save the Red Sox—at this point, no one player could do that—but imagine what a relief he would be for Boston’s bullpen. He wouldn’t have much opportunity to make an impact, but a few solid innings and respite for the other relievers could be worth far more to the franchise than the marginal prospect it would take to acquire him.
Given the unlikelihood of Durbin passing through waivers (other teams might have an interest too, and the Rays could claim him just to stop him from going to Boston) and the fact that the teams might not consider the trade to be worth their while this late in the season, a Durbin-to-the-Red-Sox deal probably won’t happen. But it would make sense for both teams, so don’t be surprised if a deal like this ends up going through.