Even without a head of baseball operations as things stand right now, the Red Sox are going to be in the market for relief pitching this winter.
Over the course of a disappointing 84-78 campaign in 2019, the Sox bullpen ranked sixth in all of baseball in innings pitched (665.0), 17th in ERA (4.40), eighth in FIP (4.14), 10th in xFIP (4.43), and fifth in fWAR (5.5) while names such as Matt Barnes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman emerged as a legitimate core to build around.
In the past few days, both The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey and MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith have pinpointed a handful of relievers that Boston could target once free agency begins, and one name that stuck out to me was right-hander Steve Cishek.
I should probably preface this by first saying that I am a big Steve Cishek guy, and I’ll explain why now.
Cishek, 33, posted a 2.95 ERA and .210 batting average against over 70 appearances and 64 total innings pitched this past season with the Chicago Cubs, the second of a two-year, $13 million deal he signed back in December of 2017.
A native of Falmouth, Ma., Cishek has experience closing games, as he has racked up 132 career saves between the Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Miami Marlins.
Per FanGraphs, Cishek has been worth $9.2 million over the last two seasons, so it is hard to imagine his asking price being all that high.
One thing to be wary of is that the sidearm reliever has dealt with his fair share of issues with his left hip, most recently spending 10 days on the injured list due to left hip inflammation in August.
With a pitch arsenal that heavily relies on a sinker and a slider, as well as a four-seam fastball and changeup, Cishek could provide the Boston bullpen with a unique look from a unique arm slot.
As a noted former Red Sox fan himself, it would be interesting to see how intrigued Cishek would be with a potential homecoming.