Boston Red Sox

Rebuilding in an entire pitching staff is no easy task, but sometimes it’s easier to start at the end and work backwards. With that in mind – and after much consideration – we’ve identified the obvious choice for the Red Sox’ No. 1 target in free agency.

Edwin Diaz.

And it doesn’t really have anything to do with Timmy Trumpet. (OK, maybe a little.)

Currently the closer for the New York Mets, Diaz is currently on a one-year, $10.2 million contract and is eligible for free agency after the season. Diaz will be 29 next March is in the midst of a truly dominating season that will extend into October. The website spotrac places his estimated value at just north of $16 million per season, which is probably a little conservative. The highest-paid closer in the game is currently Liam Hendricks of the White Sox at $18 million per season as part of a three-year, $54-milllion deal. Once can only assume that Diaz wants to beat Hendrickson in total value, average salary, term of the deal or all of the above.

And for the Red Sox, that cost would be minimal relative to what it might take to sign a front-end starting pitcher – assuming the Sox can outbid the field and/or pry him away from the Mets

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 01: Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets reacts after the final out of a game against the Texas Rangers at Citi Field on July 01, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 01: Edwin Diaz #39 of the New York Mets reacts after the final out of a game against the Texas Rangers at Citi Field on July 01, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Does that mean the Sox should be out on Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander, each of whom might command something in the range of a Max Scherzer deal? No. (Scherzer got three years and $140 million from the Mets, an average of $43.3 million per season.) But the Red Sox have so many pitching holes to fill that Diaz seems like a good place to start. His place as an anchor in the Sox bullpen would immediately eliminate the question as to the identity of the Red Sox’ closer and give the Sox serious firepower at the end of the game. Further, it would give the Sox great flexibility when it comes to determining roles for Garrett Whitlock and, for that matter, Tanner Houck, each of whom could be used in the rotation or the bullpen.

Get the picture? If the Sox can lock up Diaz – even if they have to overpay for him – they will spend less than they would on a true front-end starter. And they would then have the option of utilizing Whitlock and Houck in whatever way makes the most sense for the 2023 team depending on how the rest of the market shakes out.

Remember: as things stand, the Sox need multiple starters and multiple relivers, a catcher, a right fielder and, potentially, a designated hitter. They also need to re-sign Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers – or find replacements for them. Unless they want to have a payroll of $350 million – and they don’t – they’re going to have to be smart with their money, which has long been a foreign concept at Fenway Park.

Oh, and then there is this: Diaz is from Puerto Rico, where Alex Cora is obviously well-connected and where he is known as “Sugar.” Like many relievers, Diaz has had some history of ups and downs with regard to performance and is currently pitching lights out in a contract year, and the idea of Cora keeping him more focused and consistent seems appealing – assuming the two don’t have any negative history.

Diaz to Boston? It seems to make too much sense on too many levels to ignore.

File under: Pour some Sugar on me.