Here are a few notes for your Sunday morning, just a few days away from one of the biggest days on the baseball calendar.
Red Sox showing interest in Edwin Díaz
We are now just three days away from MLB’s trade deadline, which for the first time will be the only trade deadline of the season. That is to say, for those that don’t keep up with the changing landscape of the league, there will be no August waiver trades this year. So, if teams want to improve their team for a playoff run they must do so by midday July 31. That includes the Red Sox, who are starting to look like we’ve expected them to all year and are officially in a playoff spot as we speak. Still, even with the strong play they still need real help in their bullpen. As always, there are impact relief arms available this summer, and on Saturday Jim Bowden of The Athletic connected Boston to one of the biggest names. He reported they are showing interest in Mets closer Edwin Díaz.
While there continues to be a lot of talk regarding Noah Syndegaard......more GM's are actually pursuing Edwin Diaz both contenders and teams building for 2020. #RedSox #Twins #Dodgers amongst others. Diaz age 25. 61 SO in 39.1 IP. Salary: $607, 425. Controllable thru 2022.— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) July 27, 2019
So, uh, this is pretty juicy! This is obviously just one report of a vague pursuit, and we’ll see a hundred of these a day until the deadline with only a handful actually coming to fruition. Still, it’s exciting to see the Red Sox actually connected to one of the biggest names on the market. Díaz is in the middle of his first season with the Mets after coming over as the centerpiece in a blockbuster with the Mariners. The young righty, coming off one of the better relief seasons in recent memory in 2018, has struggled this season. He has a 4.81 ERA on the year and is getting hit very hard.
As such, it is natural to think of Díaz as a buy-low candidate. In a way, that is true! His value now is lower than it would be if he was putting up another all-world season. However, there is always a danger in cases like this that buy-low can be misconstrued to mean cheap. Díaz will cost a lot, and if the Red Sox can get him without dealing off their major-league roster it will cost multiple top prospects from their system. While Boston’s farm is one of the weaker in the majors right now, such a deal would still hurt.
That is not to say it wouldn’t be worth it, though, as Díaz is one of the most talented relievers in the game, only 25 years old and under control through the 2022 season. Even in this down year, he is still striking out 35 percent of his opponents with a walk rate below eight percent. A small tweak to get some of that weak contact back would get him right back among the elite in the game and improve the Red Sox bullpen substantially both this season and moving forward. I wouldn’t expect them to make a move this big, mostly because they don’t have the headliner type of prospect other teams could offer, but it’s at least encouraging they are apparently looking into relievers of this tier.
Brian Johnson could start next weekend
Also on Saturday, Chris Cotillo provided an update on a few injured players, which you can read here. Among the tidbits was that Brian Johnson is close to a potential return and he could start next weekend in New York. The Red Sox obviously have a full rotation right now, and they are quietly pitching solidly of late, but they also have a doubleheader in the Bronx on Saturday. They need a spot starter for that one, so Johnson’s return could come at a perfect time. Without him, there aren’t a ton of options to be excited about with Ryan Weber or Josh Smith being the other obvious candidates. Going with a bullpen game could be an interesting possibility as well, and that could still be the case with Johnson if they want to limit him to three or four innings.
Regardless, unless things go poorly it seems the southpaw will be back for that weekend series in the Bronx. The interesting question then becomes who will be optioned to make room. They’ll have a 26th man for that doubleheader, of course, but that only lasts one day. It should be mentioned that this will come after the trade deadline, so we don’t know exactly what the roster will look like at that point. The two most likely moves in my mind are to option Colten Brewer and/or place Heath Hembree back on the IL. Brewer hasn’t been terrible of late, but he and Darwinzon Hernandez are the two most likely to be optioned and Alex Cora has gone out of his way to praise the young lefty recently. I don’t see him being optioned. As for Hembree, he just hasn’t been the same since his injury with his velocity and effectiveness trending down. Cora has said he’s not hurt, but it’s hard to buy that while watching him.
Our weekly Fanpulse results are, frankly, obselete this week. The poll was taken after the series in Baltimore, and clearly the feeling around this team has changed. I should mention that, before this strong run against the Rays and Yankees, things were starting to crater. Alex Cora’s approval rating fell to a season-low 58 percent while confidence in the team fell to 35 percent, the second lowest rating of the year. Like I said, though, things are surely different right now.
More interesting was the national question, which asked recipients of the poll who the best player available at the deadline was.
Clearly, the answer here is Noah Syndergaard, but this poll went out before those rumors really started getting louder. This is actually a fairly underwhelming list of names, and Stroman probably is the most valuable name here. Starters are, even in today’s evolving game, still more valuable than relievers. That said, I think Yates is very close to Stroman and that it’s wild for him to get fewer votes than Smith.