With just about everyone looking for bullpen help, and the price likely to be high at the trade deadline, the Red Sox are leaving no stone unturned in their search for relievers. Per Pete Abraham, the Sox have signed one-time Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen to a minor league deal in hopes that he will be able to find some of the old magic before the year is done.
You may remember Janssen as one of the ultra-expensive bullpen options from 2013, when the Red Sox were scouring the trade market for someone who could fill the void left by the inconsistent and oft-injured Andrew Bailey. Ultimately, it would be Koji Uehara who transformed the back-end of Boston's pen that year, with Janssen proving too rich a target for Boston's blood and, in fact, anyone else's.
Janssen would finish the season with a 2.56 ERA, but it's been all downhill from there. Starting 2014 on the disabled list with a strained back, Janssen has never really been the same. He holds a 4.41 ERA in 85 innings of work, and while his peripherals are better, the strong strikeout numbers he'd shown in seasons past seem to be a thing of the past, likely in no small part due to a significant dip in velocity.
For the Red Sox, this is a no-risk shot in the dark at a guy who once was great, with the hope being he'll learn how to pitch with even less power than he once had and become, if not the closer of years gone by, at least a serviceable arm. It is a little odd to see them adding to Pawtucket's breadth of relief arms when they seem so reluctant to test the names that are already there. We've seen Noe Ramirez bounce up to the majors a bit too often considering how well some of the other relievers have been pitching down there at times this season. Kyle Martin has suddenly surrendered a bunch of runs these past few games, but was sitting at a 3.08 ERA with a 34:3 K:BB at May's end. Anthony Varvaro, too, has had some issues of late, serving up six free passes in his last four outings to make his walk total seem suddenly inflated. Still, with a 31:13 K:BB and 2.83 ERA in 28 innings of work, it remains odd that the Red Sox haven't at least given him a chance since he got healthy.
If these guys haven't shown the Sox enough to earn at least a trial run in Boston, it's hard to imagine what, exactly, Janssen can do to earn one. But whether the Red Sox choose to avail themselves of him or not at any point over the next few months, at least they'll have the option.