Today the Red Sox acquired Addison Reed. This trade helps the Red Sox a good deal and I think we all understand the value a high leverage arm can bring this team, particularly with Carson Smith in indefinite rehab, and Tyler Thornburg being lost in another dimension. With Joe Kelly also ailing, it just became clear that the Sox needed one more bullpen arm.
We’re not here to talk about what the Sox got, Bryan Joiner already did that. I’m here to talk about the prospects the Sox gave up, and why even though some of them are interesting, it probably won’t make a huge difference in the long-run.
The first name to move, and the big one (at least for me), is Jamie Callahan. Callahan was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, a draft class that has boasted Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson, and Austin Maddox.
Callahan is intriguing because while he started out as a starter, he was having trouble getting deep into games and with overall performance despite decent stuff. In his last full season as a starter, Callahan averaged 4 1⁄3 innings per game while putting up mediocre peripherals. So the move was made to have him become a reliever.
Fast forward to 2017, and Callahan starts the year in Portland. After 13 innings of incredible relief (5.5 H/9, 0.0 HR/9 and BB/9, 13.8 K/9, 1.38 ERA), the organization decided he was ready for Triple-A. In Pawtucket he would come back down to earth a bit (8.7 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 4.0 BB/9, 11.2 K/9, 4.03 ERA), but he still looked like a player the Sox would protect in the coming off-season’s Rule 5 Draft.
Was Callahan going to make an impact this season? No, almost certainly not. Was he going to make an impact next season? That is a more interesting question, one for which I can’t be certain. Callahan has improved dramatically as a pitcher since transitioning to the pen, and I’m not sure we’ve seen the best of him yet. For the time being, he profiles as a potential 7th or 8th inning arm, one whom the Mets will almost certainly be using going forward (at least in 2018, too soon to say if he factors into their 2017 plans).
Stephen Nogosek is the second player involved. Nogosek was a 6th rounder in last year’s MLB Draft, a class that has already seen Shaun Anderson leave. Nogosek is unlike Callahan, in that the Sox drafted him with the intent of him becoming a reliever. In 56 minor league games, he has started 0 times. Nogosek pitched brilliantly at Greenville to start his 2017 campaign, and earned a promotion to Salem where, much like with Callahan’s promotion, he experienced a bit of a bump in the road.
Nogosek has the potential for two above average pitches (fastball, slider), but no more as his third pitch, a changeup, is unlikely to even get all that close to average. However, with proper development of his 1-2, Nogosek could end up fast tracked to the big leagues as a middle-reliever.
In general, Nogosek, while an interesting name, and a player who may be of interest if everything breaks right, is entirely expendable by a team that has numerous prospects looking to climb up the organizational ladder.
The final player in the deal is Gerson Bautista, and I’d be lying to you if I said I knew a whole lot about him. Much like Callahan and Nogosek, he’s a high-strikeout arm with control issues (I wonder if the Mets have a type). Unlike those two though, he hasn’t earned a promotion through the season. Stuck at Salem, and with it being unlikely he was going to get to Portland by season’s end, Bautista found himself in a bit of limbo.
The most intriguing aspect of Bautista’s game, and the one that likely drew the attention of scouts, was his raw strength and athleticism. Bautista has reportedly hit 100 mph on his fastball (according to the linked SoxProspects writeup), with a lot of sink. His fastball is a potential plus-plus pitch, and has two average potential pitches in his changeup and slider (though his slider could get even better).
With a mechanical cleanup to take some effort out of his delivery, and some major refinement on his fastball (which will be his bread and butter), Bautista profiles as a potential late inning reliever, albeit an extremely risky, far-off one. The type of guy the Sox are all too happy to trade, and the type of guy that works perfectly as the third piece in the trade for the Mets.
Overall, the Red Sox got a good reliever, without having to give up a whole lot. Callahan, Nogosek, and Bautista are all intriguing in their own ways, but all three were expendable assets for the Red Sox. Additionally, both Callahan and Bautista were Rule 5 eligible this offseason, so it functions as a way of cleaning up the annual logjam. Nogosek wasn’t going to be eligible until 2019, himself.
With Reed being a rental, there exists the possibility of him returning. Should Reed not return, there are several players that could use a 40 man roster spot, that will be Rule 5 eligible. Among these names are Justin Haley (who was recently returned to the Sox after being taken last year), Jalen Beeks, Danny Mars, Chandler Shepherd, and Jantzen Witte.
The Mets made a great deal, moving a player whose contract expires at the end of the year for a couple promising arms, in the hopes one becomes a cost controlled lite version of the player they just dealt. But this doesn’t mean the Red Sox made a bad deal, either. The Red Sox moved expendable pieces in potential Rule 5 purgatory, and got back a big reliever for the stretch run. If the Red Sox are going to go for it, they could have picked a worse guy to do it with.