boston red sox
(Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

For two seasons in a row, I have been begging the Boston Red Sox to acquire pitching help (especially in the bullpen). I have also wondered who was going to be a long term solution at second base to replace the aging and hobbled Dustin Pedroia. Sox Nation you can thank the LA Dodgers and the Bronx Bombers (of all teams) for helping provide some much needed help to a team needing consistency at both positions.

Red Sox Deal With Yankees?

Of all the teams I expected the Red Sox to trade with, the Yankees were the last team on that list. This might be the only time I’m ever going to praise the Yankees for a move, so don’t get used to it. Boston acquired veteran reliever Adam Ottavino, minor league hurler Frank Herman and $850,000 to pay for the remaining $8 million left on his 3 year, $27 million contract, which expires next season. Ottavino will also receive a $3 million signing bonus from New York on January 5th, 2022. Essentially it was a salary dump for the Yankees to keep them from exceeding their $210 million luxury-tax payroll.

How rare is this type of trade between these bitter rivals? The last time these two teams exchanged players was 2014, when the Sox sent SS Stephen Drew to the Bronx for Kelley Johnson. Before that, the last trade came in 1987. The reason for that is very simple: you don’t give your biggest rival any help when you are direct competition for not only the AL East but the World Series every year. In the 21st century alone, the Yankees and Red Sox have won 16 division titles and 6 world series titles. 

Back in the present day, acquiring Ottavino, gives this much maligned Boston bullpen an immediate veteran presence and a potential closer in the making. He wasn’t called upon to close many games in New York with flame thrower Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, but he does have 19 career saves. In New York, he had a strong first season with a 6-5 record and 1.90 ERA, helping propel the Yankees to their second AL Championship series appearance in 3 years.

Unfortunately, he struggled during a pandemic shortened 2020 season, only registering a 2-3 record and a 5.89 ERA. I am hopeful that he reverts back to his days in Colorado, where he posted 5 seasons with ERA’s under 3.00. A new city and team might be just what he needs to get back on track and with a bullpen that blew 31 saves in 2019 (tied with Oakland for worst in baseball). Only time will tell if he can be a reliable arm in the back end of Alex Cora’s bullpen to close down games.

When the Red Sox signed Kiki Hernandez to a 2 year, $14 million contract this past week, I thought to myself: FINALLY the Red Sox found a reliable infielder with postseason experience that could make an immediate splash in this lineup. Ever since Manny Machado ended Dustin Pedroia’s career with his slide into second base that resulted in a devastating knee injury during the 2017 season, the Red Sox have been scrambling to find his replacement.

Pedroia has only played nine times since then and they’ve used Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, Michael Chavis and Brock Holt during that time. Kinsler, Phillips and Holt are all on new teams or retired. Chavis on the other hand is still on the team, he has been called upon to split time at first base and 3rd base, where he’s more comfortable playing. I am looking for someone who can consistently play there every day and Hernandez has the chance to prove that he can be an everyday player and win the hearts of Sox Nation.

During his time with the Dodgers, Hernandez was used more as a utility player, but boy did he ever deliver some of the biggest postseason hits for LA. He tied game 7 of last year’s NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, launching a 97 MPH fastball in the 6th inning. That ball was tattooed and when he connects on a pitch, he crushes them. Oh yeah and let’s not forget his three home run game against the Chicago Cubs in the 2017 NLCS. Those three long balls sent the defending champs home. Two of those came in his first two at bats and his second was a grandslam that blew the game open in the 4th inning. This guy is simply clutch but only has 71 career long balls in seven seasons. Give him more playing time and he could be in store for a breakout season.

What Do The Red Sox Still Need?

The Red Sox clearly still need to address their starting pitching issues. Ace Chris Sale hasn’t pitched since 2019 and Eduardo Rodriguez’s status is unknown after dealing with complications from COVID-19. Those two had great seasons in 2018-2019 but right now not having a 3rd or 4th pitcher to pitch deep into games, will not get you very far and won’t be enough to reach the postseason. No amount of help on offense can save terrible pitching. At the end of the day, Boston sports fans want championships and anything short of that is unacceptable. Alex Cora has a lot to prove following the sign stealing scandal in 2018 and improving the pitching staff should be his top priority.

By: Whitney Dowds