Boston Red Sox

By Matt Dolloff,

If Dave Dombrowski wants to add an impact reliever to bolster the Boston Red Sox’ bullpen, it’s really going to cost him.

The Cleveland Indians just got the trade market truly rolling in the American League on Thursday, sending top prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres for lefty Brad Hand and righty Adam Cimber. Hand, in particular, was one of the biggest available prizes in terms of relief pitching; he’s struck out 65 batters in 44 innings and just made his second straight All-Star team.

The problem for the Red Sox is that Mejia, a catcher with the potential to eventually move to the outfield, is regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. At MLB Pipeline, he’s No. 15 overall and becomes the No. 3 prospect in the Padres organization. The Red Sox’ top prospect at that same site, third baseman Michael Chavis, is No. 63.

Oh, and the Red Sox probably won’t be able to move him in light of his 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Lefty Jay Groome (No. 74) underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out until sometime in 2019. Perhaps most frustrating is that the prospect who had the best chance to be similar to Mejia, Blake Swihart, lost a lot of his value a long time ago.

Cleveland just set the stage for Dombrowski to potentially have to severely overpay to acquire a reliever of his own. Especially if the reports are true that they seek their “closer of the future” with Craig Kimbrel set to hit free agency in the winter. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said on July 11 that the Red Sox were “blanketing” the reliever market, with an eye toward making a serious upgrade.

Mar 4, 2018; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

They’ve reportedly called the Colorado Rockies on Wade Davis (27 saves) and Adam Ottavino (1.62 ERA), and have also sent scouts to watch the Miami Marlins’ Kyle Barraclough (1.28 ERA). Other possible trade deadline targets for the Red Sox include the Orioles’ Zach Britton, the Marlins’ Adam Conley, the Mets’ Jeurys Familia, and the Twins’ Fernando Rodney.

Not all of them are on par with Hand as far as a trade addition, but Dombrowski may have to overpay in order to get one of them anyway. He already doesn’t have enough in the minor league system, most likely, to make a move for someone like Britton.

The Indians can be thanked for setting the market in that regard. But blame is also in order for Dombrowski for putting the Red Sox in this position in the first place. While none of the prospects he’s traded have come back to bite the Red Sox just yet, he’s left himself with a practically empty cupboard. And the relievers he’s already acquired, besides Kimbrel, simply haven’t lived up to what he hoped for when he brought them to Boston.

Red Sox fans may have to get used to this for the foreseeable future. Their farm system is barren compared to other teams, even other contenders. And it could price them out of the reinforcements they inevitably need.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at

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