Well, the Red Sox were already among the early moving teams, acquiring infielder Aaron Hill from the Brewers earlier this week, and now they’ve jumped the relief market.
The Red Sox have acquired closer Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks for Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe, each of whom is an interesting, but low-level prospect. Basabe is probably the better get in the deal, as he’s a 19-year-old middle infielder who is hitting very well at Low-A.
Ziegler, 36, is not an overpowering reliever, but he’s found his niche as an extreme groundball guy who typically outperforms his peripherals by inducing a ton of weak contact. He’s at his best when limiting walks (his 9.1% rate this year probably didn’t help his trade value), and he’s basically impossible to hit homers off of. In sum, he’s a very nice bullpen piece.
A free agent at the end of the year, Ziegler’s trade value was limited, and he probably wasn’t going to get a qualifying offer from the Diamondbacks, who might be now signaling their intention to sell. Still, that’s a decent return of prospects, and should frame your thinking on the rental relief market.
The Red Sox have had an obvious need in the bullpen, and they were willing to jump the market to take care of the need, even at a decent expense.
We’ll see if and when the Cubs address their bullpen issues in the coming weeks. Theo Epstein has already suggested it’s likely to happen, so it’ll just be a matter of getting the right deal.