Red Sox should bolster bullpen by signing veteran reliever Alex Colomé

In signing right-hander Garrett Richards and utilityman Enrique Hernandez to major-league contracts this weekend, the Red Sox have done a solid job in addressing some of the team’s areas of needs.

That, however, does not mean that the job is done quite yet as more additions are likely to be made between now and Opening Day.

One area the Sox could look to address would be bolstering the back end of their bullpen. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo even wrote on Saturday that Boston is “pursuing bullpen upgrades.”

While a great deal of veteran, free-agent bullpen arms remain unsigned thanks to a relatively slow-moving market for relievers, one name that sticks out in particular here is Alex Colome.

The 32-year-old right-hander has been linked to the Red Sox on several occasions this month, and is coming off a superb 2020 season in which he posted a 0.81 ERA and 2.97 FIP over 21 appearances and 22 1/3 innings pitched for the White Sox.

He put up those numbers while working with a two-pitch arsenal that consists of a cutter and four-seam fastball that averaged 94.4 mph on the radar gun, per Baseball Savant.

On January 2, FanSided’s Robert Murray tweeted that the Sox were among a handful of teams interested in Colome, while MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted on January 12 that Boston was “among those in the mix” for the righty’s services.

Bringing on someone of Colome’s caliber would help the Red Sox in at least two ways. First, his addition would surely improve an overworked bullpen that put up the second-worst relievers’ ERA in the American League (5.79) while throwing the most relief innings in baseball (278) last year.

Second, Colome has plenty of experience as a big-league closer, racking up 138 career saves over the course of eight seasons between the White Sox, Mariners, and Rays.

As currently constructed, the Red Sox may already have their closer for the 2021 season in the form of right-hander Matt Barnes, but it would not hurt to add a fallback option there, especially given the fact that Barnes has struggled in that role in the past.

MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith put it best regarding the flame-throwing 30-year-old in the most recent installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast.

“Matt Barnes has struggled throughout his career in that role,” Smith said. “He did take it over last year and he did look pretty good, but he’s a guy that — when you have a full 162-game schedule — often gets tired in the second half [of the season]. He doesn’t produce as much in the second half. You have to be careful with Matt Barnes because he does throw hard, has really good stuff, obviously… But, with him, if he overthrows too much, you got to be careful with him.”

On top of being able to spell Barnes as closer when needed, Colome, having spent more than 11 years in the Rays’ organization from 2007-2018, is likely familiar with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to some degree from their time together in Tampa Bay.

That particular connection between Bloom and Colome could work towards improving the Red Sox’ relief corps in 2021, as MLB Trade Rumors predicted back in November that the Dominican hurler would net himself a one-year deal worth approximately $6 million this offseason.

(Picture of Alex Colome: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Red Sox one of several teams interested in free-agent reliever Alex Colomé, per report

The Red Sox are among the teams reportedly interested in free-agent reliever Alex Colome, per FanSided’s Robert Murray.

Colome, who recently turned 32, is coming off a 2020 campaign with the White Sox in which he posted a superb 0.81 ERA and .460 OPS against over 21 appearances and 22 1/3 innings of work while converting 12 out of a possible 13 save opportunities.

The veteran right-hander is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a one-year deal worth somewhere around $6 million this offseason, though MLBTR does have him returning to the South Side.

That being said, Colome does have connections to the Red Sox, as the above tweet mentions, thanks to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

Both Bloom and Colome spent plenty of time together with the Rays following the latter’s big-league debut in 2013, which came more than six years after he signed with Tampa Bay out of the Dominican Republic in March 2007.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 lbs., Colome works with just two pitches: a cut and four-seam fastball, per Baseball Savant. He posted a 15.3% whiff rate with those pitches last season.

The Red Sox, coming off a 2020 campaign in which they ranked 27th in baseball in bullpen ERA (5.79), are in need of upgrades to their relief corps.

Colome, despite owning a lifetime 5.31 ERA at Fenway Park, certainly fits that mold and could even emerge as the club’s closer if he is indeed signed.

For the time being, though, that remains just a possibility since it is not yet known how aggressively the Red Sox are pursuing the experienced hurler.