Early Saturday morning the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks completed a trade in which the Red Sox acquired relief pitcher Brad Ziegler in exchange for two minor leaguers. Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald first reported the story.
The two minor leaguers are Jose Almonte, a 20-year-old right handed starting pitcher who had been playing at Single-A level, Greenville, and Luis Alejandro Basabe, a 19-year-old infielder at Greenville.
Ziegler had been closing games for the Diamondbacks. He has 18 saves to go along with an ERA of 2.82. Last season Ziegler saved 30 games with an ERA of 1.85. A free agent following the conclusion of the 2016 season, Ziegler will likely slide into a set-up role, a role that Koji Uehara has struggled to adjust to this season.
There’s a chance that Ziegler could see some save opportunities. A lot of that depends on the results of an MRI on current Red Sox closer and American League All-Star Craig Kimbrel.
Friday night, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported that Kimbrel was suffering from knee soreness. The Red Sox have been in need of added bullpen depth all season long. Carson Smith had been acquired last offseason to add depth, but season-ending tommy john surgery cost Smith the 2016 season.
Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have both been inconsistent and even Kimbrel had not quite lived up to the sky-high expectations he arrived in Boston with. Tazawa has not pitched since Sunday due to right shoulder discomfort.
If Kimbrel is to miss any time due to injury, Ziegler would seem like a natural fit to slide into the closer role.
Ziegler has seen his hits-per-nine-innings pitched ratio spike upward this season. In 2015 he allowed a very nice 6.4 hits per nine innings pitched. This season that number is up to a troubling 9.6. That’s why his whip ratio sits at 1.461. He features a fairly unique submarine type of delivery which should garner him immediate notice from Red Sox fans.
The Red Sox didn’t part with what would be considered “top prospects.” Basabe’s twin brother, Luis Alexander (as opposed to Alejandro) is the higher rated of the identical twins. Almonte has not excelled at Greenville, and faces a steep climb if he hopes to end up on a major league roster.
For the Red Sox the acquisition of Ziegler represents another incremental step towards plugging some of the holes on the Red Sox roster. Ziegler may not be the last relief pitcher the team acquires. His presence instantly improves the team’s bullpen depth and overall strength, and he came at a what has to be considered a relatively low cost.
The Red Sox are almost certainly not done yet. The starting rotation still needs at least one, and possibly two additions.
The team’s left field situation continues to be in a state of flux as does the catcher position.