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Red Sox Trade Target: Kyle Barraclough

You can never have enough relievers.

New York Mets v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s been said many times that the number one position the Red Sox will be looking at this trade season is going to be in the bullpen. There are a lot of considerations for any potential target, and an impact on this season is the biggest one, but future impact could be a factor as well. With that in mind, Kyle Barraclough, reliever for the Miami Marlins, is a very intriguing potential trade target. Barraclough is having a stellar season thus far, posting a 1.34 ERA, 9.82 K/9, and contributing 1.3 bWAR. His arsenal features a fastball in the mid 90s, a filthy slider, as well as a plus changeup. It’s hard to do these pitches justice with mere words, so check out the gifs below to see just how nasty he can be.

Barraclough has taken a new approach this season, relying more on his changeup and throwing his slider at a career low rate. He’s thrown his changeup 12% of the time, up from 4% last year, and he’s thrown his slider just 28% of the time, down all the way from 42% in 2017. The new mix of speeds has worked wonders and has resulted in his fastball being his most effective pitch rather than the slider. His fastball has been worth 10 runs above average according to Fangraphs’ metrics

Barraclough’s recent run of dominance, combined with some struggles from old friend Brad Ziegler, has thrust him into the Marlins’ closer role as well as into many trade talks. However, despite his spectacular first half results, expectations should be tempered just a bit. Barraclough owns a 3.55 FIP largely thanks to a walk rate over five per nine innings, and his ERA has been significantly deflated due to a .144 BABIP and a 91.7% strand rate. The average BABIP and strand rate for pitchers tend to float around .300 and 73%, respectively, so it seems reasonable to expect Barraclough will experience regression back to the mean at some point.

A major plus for Barraclough is the fact that he has 3 years of team control left and is in his age-28 season. He has been a consistent reliever for the Fish since 2015, and could be a staple in the Sox’ bullpen until 2021, possibly even taking over the closer role if Craig Kimbrel decides to test the free agent market and the Red Sox don’t match the large offers he’ll surely receive from other clubs.

The Red Sox have also been linked to other Marlins relievers such as Drew Steckenrider, who has 5 years of team control left, and Adam Conley, who has 3 years of team control left. Because of their contract situations, including Steckenrider and Conley in any deal along with Barraclough would constitute a hefty price. A separate player who has caught my interest over the past few years has been Derek Dietrich. Dietrich can play second base, third base, as well as the outfield, and has been a solid hitter since 2015, including a wRC+ of 121 this year. Someone with that kind of flexibility gives the Sox a plethora of options from the bench and would be a clear upgrade over their current bench. However, as of now, only the Cubs and Brewers have been linked to Dietrich.

My ideal trade would include a package of Barraclough and Dietrich, but everything depends on the Marlins’ asking price. For as much as this package would help, I’d still avoid trading too much of the farm to get this kind of deal done. We’ll see what Dealin’ Dave has in store for us.