Some people say being spoiled is a bad thing. For fans of Boston sports, it’s tough not to be.
With the 2018 season in the books, and another championship banner brought to the city, the 2019 Boston Red Sox face one of the toughest tasks in all of sports. Going back to back.
In all sports, seasons are won and lost in free agency. Here are three free agents the Boston Red Sox should consider signing if they plan on repeating.
Jake Diekman (2018 team: TEX/ARZ):
They say Boston is one of the toughest places to play. From the pressure supplied by the fans to the criticism from the media, a lot of players cannot maintain their previous success when they begin calling Fenway home. It’s often times difficult to gage. When a player can consistently get out of jams, it tells you that he can handle the pressure.
Jake Diekman is that guy. Walking more than a batter every other inning over the course of his career, the left hander’s ERA only once topping 3.50 during parts of four seasons in the American League is an indicator that he can handle pressure. Prior to receiving surgery during the 2016-2017 offseason, the soon-to-be 32 year old was one of the faster rising setup men in all of baseball.
A poor performance after being traded to Arizona lowered Diekman’s value, making him an affordable late-inning arm for any team.
Cody Allen (2018 team: CLE)
What is it about closers being problematic in games where they don’t have a save situation? Be it having a lead larger than three runs, or coming into games with a tied game or while trailing, the aces of the bullpen seem to struggle when they shouldn’t.
This was the case of many MLB closers, but particularly of Cleveland’s Cody Allen. During save situations, Allen’s 3.12 ERA during save situations was severely impacted by his ERA being above seven when the bullpen’s most valuable stat wasn’t at stake.
Entering this past season, Allen had put together a stretch of five consecutive years giving up less than three runs per nine. For you non-baseball fans, that’s pretty darn good. His market won’t be gone due to the down season, but his value has lowered. A player who has the talent to get paid the big bucks is set to be paid way less than he’s worth.
Craig Kimbrel (2018 team: BOS)
The 2018 Red Sox season saw one consistent area of concern, and that was the bullpen. One spot almost always shined brightly, and that was from Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning role.
An allstar in each of his three seasons with Boston, Kimbrel can be labelled as the best relief pitcher of the decade. Since his debut season at only 22 years old, the righty has maintained a WHIP below one. While his postseason success might not bolster his resume enough for some New Englanders, three or four more solid seasons have him on the fast track towards the hall of fame.
Signing good free agent relievers is always a possibility, but replacing somebody elite is never easy. Instead of replacing an elite talent, it is within the best interest of the Boston Red Sox to pay this man whatever he wants. They’re willing to go over the luxury tax as it is, they mine as well splurge on a familiar face who can help them more than any other name on the market.
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