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Red Sox have discussed Antonio Bastardo for Sean Coyle trade with Phillies

The Red Sox and Phillies have discussed a trade that would send Sean Coyle to Philadelphia in exchange for lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox have been in contact with the Phillies to discuss a trade that would send Sean Coyle to the Phillies in exchane for Antonio Bastardo, per Chris Cotillo. What Cotillo can't say for sure is whether or not either side is still interested.

The Red Sox' pursuit of a lefty reliever certainly makes plenty of sense. Of the 17 pitchers currently on the 40-man roster, all of four are lefties, with Eduardo Rodriguez clearly not intended for the pen anytime soon. And the other three? Drake Britton, Tommy Layne, Edwin Escobar. If you're comfortable with that as Boston's lefty representation out of the bullpen, you've probably got more faith than sense.

Then again, that doesn't mean Antonio Bastardo is the answer. In his six years with Philadelphia, Bastardo has pitched to an uninspiring 3.72 ERA. And while he piles up the strikeouts with the best of them, he's also managed to walk 125 batters in 259 innings. What's worse, 2014 was not kind to Bastardo, who produced a 3.94 ERA in a career-high 64 innings of work, with his walk issues more pronounced than ever.

It's a little unreasonable to judge any reliever by a single season alone. Even if they're spread out over the course of a season, the sample sizes involved are just too small to read too much into any given year. Antonio Bastardo's 64 innins of mediocrity in 2014 are harder to look past, for instance, than Jon Lester's 66 consecutive innings of 6.27 ERA pitching in 2013 just because the latter is masked by the other 150-odd innings Lester pitched that year.

Still, even taking into account the whole picture with Bastardo, he's just not all that exciting. High walk rates, high fly ball rates, and even if he's any good, he's gone next year.

Making up for that some is the relatively low asking price. Sean Coyle has had flashes of brilliance in his time in the minor leagues. His best sretches can go up against those of anyone else in (or recently out of) the system. But he's also constantly finding his way to the disabled list, and isn't exactly projected to replicate his exceptional minor league performances at the highest level.

It's always tough to peg the value of a reliever, and Bastardo is no different. It seems wrong to say that it's not worth giving up a player like Sean Coyle--a prospect who doesn't even make top-10 lists--for someone who has contributed to a major league team for six seasons, but somehow this doesn't seem like the sort of deal the Red Sox should be giving him away in. There is some real upside to Coyle, however much his injuries may obscure that, and one year of Bastardo doesn't seem like a return of any value when you consider how far from ideal he is to fill that spot on the roster.

It's possible this is the best the Red Sox are ever going to get for Coyle. But that doesn't mean it's right to make the trade. They'd likely be better off including Coyle as a sweetener in a more impactful trade, whether that be as part of their search for a starting pitcher, or for a more desirable left-handed relief candidate. It's a role the Red Sox need to fill, but one they should probably fill with a better player, even if it's at a higher price in terms of talent.