Ever since Jonathan Papelbon left the Boston Red Sox to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Red Sox have been looking for his replacement.
The Red Sox have traded for closers in the past two off-seasons, but Andrew Bailey nor Joel Hanrahan have proven to be the solution.
Bailey, who the Red Sox have brought him over in a trade with the Oakland Athletics in 2012, has a 4.03 ERA with four blown saves and eight saves. Bailey proved to be unreliable in save situations.
Hanrahan is now out for the season as he underwent Tommy John’s surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his pitching arm. Even before Hanrahan got injured, he wasn’t exactly the resolution for the Red Sox.
In the nine games he pitched in 2013, Hanrahan had a 9.82 ERA with four saves and two blown saves. He looked far removed from the two-time All-Star that he was for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hanrahan had at least 36 saves the past two seasons. So now what do the Red Sox do about their closer situation?
Talks of bringing back Papelbon have heated up among fans and media circles. Papelbon is have an all-star season and has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies. Papelbon has 14 saves in 2013 with an ERA of 2.20. The Phillies may be willing to listen to offers from the Red Sox because the Phillies seem to be heading for a rebuilding job. If the Phillies ask for a lot for Papelbon, the Red Sox could remain with Koji Uehara as closer.
Uehara was named closer of the Red Sox last Friday and has been excellent out the bullpen this season. In 32 games, Uehara has a 2.10 ERA has at least one strikeout in nine of his last 10 games pitched. He usually pitches one inning, so the strikeouts are a big deal.
Whatever happens with Uehara as closer, I expect Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington to keep a close eye on the closer situation. He did say he was open to trade options, so that’s something to keep your eye on as we get closer to the July 31 trading deadline.