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MLB Trade Deadline: Boston bolsters bullpen with Addison Reed

Boston sent three minor-league relievers to the Mets, and got a major-league reliever in return.

MLB: New York Mets at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Trade deadline day is finally here.

In the first deal of the morning, the Boston Red Sox acquired right-handed relief pitcher Addison Reed from the New York Mets in an attempt to shore up some bullpen issues that they have had throughout the year. In exchange for Reed, the Mets received three right-handed relief prospects: Stephen Nogosek, Jaime Callahan and Gerson Bautista.

The Red Sox get the bullpen arm they desperately need

As I wrote earlier this month, Addison Reed was a great trade candidate for any team that needed an extra arm out of the bullpen. I listed three reasons for Reed’s high value: his ability to pitch multiple innings, success in high leverage situations and his overall effectiveness with his repertoire.

Reed is coming off a career season in 2016 and has followed it up nicely to begin 2017. In 49 innings pitched, Reed has a 2.57 ERA and a 48:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Reed has dominated the strike zone; his 3.0 percent walk rate this year is a career-best, and it is the second-best mark among all Major League relief pitchers. (Just Kenley Jansen has a better rate.) Overall, Reed has been worth 0.9 fWAR.

Reed’s transition into an elite bullpen arm really came last year, and his 3.5 fWAR over the past two seasons makes up more than half of his entire career’s fWAR (seven seasons’ worth). In that time, Reed ranks sixth among Major League relief pitchers in the metric.

The Red Sox do have one of the best relievers in baseball — Craig Kimbrel — on their staff, but he accounts for over 50 percent (!!!) of their bullpen’s total fWAR this season. So, while Boston does rank highly amongst Major League bullpens by several metrics, a lot of it can be attributed to having Kimbrel alone.

After him, the Red Sox don’t have any elite arms they can comfortably give the ball to in close games. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly have all been fine, but not only has Reed been better this year, he also has more experience than all three of them. This move was necessary for the Red Sox as they go down the stretch.

Reed was arbitration-eligible for the final time this past offseason. He will be a free agent this November.

The Mets get an interesting return

On paper, the Mets’ return for Reed looks solid. They received three of the Red Sox’s Top-30 prospects, including Nos. 18, 23 and 28, according to MLB Pipeline’s rankings.

The problem is, though, all three of these pitchers are already full-time relievers. A team won’t get nearly as much value from a relief pitcher as they would from, say, a starting pitcher, so this really hurts any of the three prospects’ ability to provide lots of value at the Major League level. Sure, any one of them could turn out to be better than Addison Reed while also being under team control for more seasons, and that would be valuable. However, they are all still risky pickups, and the upside, at least in my mind, isn’t high enough to make this move exciting for New York. Let’s break them down.

The 22-year-old Nogosek (Red Sox number 18) is currently pitching at High-A Salem this year, where he has a 4.08 ERA with a 18:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 23 innings pitched. Across the two levels he has pitched at this year, he has a 3.06 ERA and a 63:21 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 53 overall innings. His mid-90s fastball is complimented with a slider and cutter that each have plus potential, and he has the opportunity to move through the minors quickly. MLB Pipeline sees him in the Major Leagues by 2019.

Callahan (Red Sox number 23), also 22, is much closer to the Major Leagues, having experience at both Double- and Triple-A this year. He’s thrown 42 innings this year, posting an excellent 56:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio alongside his 3.21 ERA, while saving six games. MLB Pipeline projects him to be a decent middle relief pitcher that also has a good fastball and a cutter. He should be ready to pitch in the Majors this season. Callahan will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason, meaning that the Red Sox would have had to add him to the 40-man or risk losing him to any team that wanted him. The Mets now face the same choice.

Lastly is Bautista (Red Sox number 28), who is also a 22-year-old pitcher. He has been teammates with Nogosek at High-A Salem this year, but he may have the most upside of the three. Bautista has a fastball that can reach 101 mph, and a slider with a mid-80s velocity that has good bite. The results aren’t quite there yet. He has posted a 5.16 ERA over 45 13 innings in the South Atlantic League, striking out 53 and walking 28. Bautista shouldn’t be ready for Major League action until 2019, as he has some control and delivery issues to work out going forward. He is also going to be Rule 5 eligible come winter, and unlike Callahan, he doesn’t look ready for a spot on the 40-man roster of a contending team.

But, as you can see, the Mets didn’t really get any top notch prospect for Reed. They split the risk by acquiring three, but I’m not a fan of the direction they went in. Nor did the Red Sox give up much, particularly if protecting Callahan and Bautista from the Rule 5 draft wasn’t going to be trivial. Of course, I’m evaluating this trade mere hours after it happened, so we won’t know how this trade really pans out for a fair amount of time. But the Red Sox got the bullpen arm they needed, and for what looks like a very good price.


Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.