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The Red Sox and the Bullpen Market

12.07.09 at 5:14 am ET

INDIANAPOLIS — The Sox have a couple of openings in their bullpen with the departures of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito. The defections of the two veterans leave the Sox with a need to fill out a couple of bullpen spots, rounding out a group that (barring a trade) currently includes Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen.

The Sox will explore the elite relievers on the market. This year, Mike Gonzalez (80 games, 2.42 ERA, 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings) and Rafael Soriano (77 games, 2.97 ERA, 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings) both fit that bill.

However, both will require multi-year contracts as well as the sacrifice of a draft pick, since both Type A free agents were offered salary arbitration. And history suggests that it would be unlikely for the Sox to pay such a price.

Only once during the seven-year administration of GM Theo Epstein have the Sox sacrificed a draft pick or given a contract of more than two guaranteed years to a reliever. Both cases occurred with the signing of Keith Foulke to a three-year deal after the 2003 season.

Unless the Sox trade closer Jonathan Papelbon, thus creating a need for a closer (and there have been no indications that the team will do this), it is difficult to envision Boston making such a sacrifice for a reliever ‘€“ especially since the Sox are mindful of the year-to-year inconsistencies of performers out of the bullpen.

It is also worth noting that the Sox — who have already coughed up one draft pick in order to sign Marco Scutaro, but gained two back when Billy Wagner signed with the Braves — have only sacrificed multiple draft picks in one offseason. That came after the 2004 season, when the team lost two picks for signing Edgar Renteria and David Wells, but enjoyed a net gain of four draft picks by receiving two selections each for Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Orlando Cabrera.

Read More: billy wagner, marco scutaro, mike gonzalez, rafael soriano
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