On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox announced that their closer, Andrew Bailey, would have season-ending shoulder surgery. While the news is certainly disappointing for Bailey and Red Sox fans’, it may end up becoming good news if you are a fan of the Minnesota Twins.
Even before the injury to Bailey, the Red Sox bullpen was struggling with a combined 4.03 ERA. Because of this, the team was rumored to be in the market for a reliever who could bolster their bullpen at the trade deadline, even after acquiring Matt Thornton from Chicago last week. With the American League East being one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball, the need for the Red Sox to address their bullpen, if they want to remain competitive and at the top of the division, is increasing by the day.
One team that could assist in helping the Red Sox solve their bullpen quandary is the Twins, who have two relievers—Jared Burton and closer Glen Perkins—who could be of great value to the Red Sox if they are willing to pay the price to acquire them. Perkins, an All-Star this season, is the most valuable and intriguing option of the two pitchers due to his team friendly contract and his dominating stuff on the mound that is garnering him a reputation for being one of the brightest “young” closers in all of baseball. Perkins, age 30, has two years remaining on his contract after this season—and a team option for 2016—that would pay him a total of $12 million if the option is picked up. For a dominant, hard-throwing, left-handed closer that currently is sporting a 1-0 record with a 1.72 ERA, 23 saves and a miniscule 0.791 WHIP, that is very affordable and very intriguing to teams who may be looking to acquire a talented closer; the problem is, Perkins’ price-tag is going to be awfully steep.
In order to acquire Perkins, the Red Sox would likely have to surrender a player such as pitcher Rubby De La Rosa or a high-end prospect like left-handed pitcher Henry Owens (currently in High Class-A with a 7-4 record and a 2.93 ERA over 18 starts), right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo (currently at Double-A with a 8-3 record and 2.87 ERA over 17 starts) outfielder Bryce Brentz (currently at Triple-A with a .272 batting average, 16 HR and 53 RBI over 75 games) or a combination of the prospects of some sort. While that is a very steep price to pay, the Twins’ asking price is going to be very high and it is going to center around high-end pitching talent that the Twins are in the market to receive.
A more realistic, and affordable, option for the Red Sox to consider may be Burton. Burton has had an up and down season so far, but has settled back in over the last few games and could be a nice addition to the bullpen, and a great stop-gap solution for the Red Sox, until their array of closers return from injury sometime next season. On the year, Burton is 1-6 with a 3.53 ERA, a 1.338 WHIP, an 8.1 SO/9 and a 0.5 WAR over 45 games and 43.1 innings pitched. While the stats aren’t overly impressive, Burton is a very effective pitcher, did sport a 2.18 ERA over 62 innings last season and would likely come at a much cheaper price than Perkins would. Whereas Perkins could fetch the Twins a possible combination of a big-league ready arm and a nice low-level pitching prospect, Burton may only fetch a high-end, low-level prospect in any trade.
While the Red Sox claim they are not in the market to acquire a big-name closer, if they begin to falter and fall in the standings, don’t be surprised if they don’t warm up the phone lines and give the Twins a call. With the Twins not in position to compete for a few seasons, they seem to be an ideal trading partner for the Red Sox to deal with.
This surely will not be the last time you hear trade rumors of Perkins and Burton to the Red Sox; but until the trade deadline passes, keep an eye on the transaction wire because you just might see a deal between the Twins and Red Sox grabbing headlines sometime soon.