After missing out on Tommy Kahnle, could Red Sox pursue former Blue Jays closer Ken Giles in free agency?

Before signing a two-year deal with the Dodgers late last month, right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle nearly agreed to a contract with the Red Sox. So much so that “the Red Sox were considered the runner-up” for the 31-year-old’s services, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Kahnle, who officially signed a two-year, $4.75 million pact with Los Angeles on December 29, will likely miss the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. So, the Dodgers will essentially be paying the veteran hurler to rehab his elbow in his first year with the club in hopes that he will be a quality contributor out of the their bullpen in 2022.

That being said, the Red Sox presumably had this same plan in mind in their pursuit of Kahnle as well. And as noted by Cotillo, their pursuit of the righty “suggests that the club is looking at a wide variety of options to improve its pitching depth, including arms that won’t help in 2021.”

One of those arms available that won’t be immediately ready to help in 2021 would be former Phillies, Astros, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Giles “figures to sign the type of two-year deal that teams frequently award pitchers recovering from an elbow reconstruction.” And he “might appeal to clubs that plan to be more competitive and/or financially flexible in ’22, as well as those that might lose their closer to free agency.” 

The 30-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on September 30 after making just four appearances out of the Toronto bullpen in 2020.

The year before, his first full season with the Jays, Giles put together a solid 2019 campaign, posting a 1.87 ERA and .574 OPS against over 53 appearances and 53 innings of work while converting 23 of a possible 24 save opportunities.

Right elbow inflammation did cost Giles a decent chunk of time in July, which ultimately prevented the Blue Jays from trading the former seventh-round pick ahead of the 2019 trade deadline.

Around that same time, the Red Sox were reportedly one of several teams in the mix for potentially acquiring Giles.

Nothing may have happened then, and Boston’s baseball operations department may be under new leadership now, but there certainly is a potential match to be made here.

For starters, fellow righty Matt Barnes, who at the moment is slated to be the Sox’ closer this coming season, is set to become a free agent for the first time next winter.

Though Barnes has publicly stated that he is interested in signing an extension with Boston, bringing in Giles on a two-year deal could prove to be an effective contingency plan for 2022.

On top of that, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in an interview with WEEI last week that “there’s a lot of players” on his list of potential offseason additions.

“Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of ways we can improve. Part of that is how we’re looking to improve,” explained Bloom. “In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us and fit us. Pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different players we can bring in to help us. We also don’t want to take our eye off of the ball that, at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes. We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently year in and year out. That means we have to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not be just about 2021. I think we have enough talent here that we should be able to compete and win along the way there. But there are some things we’ve explored and some things we’ve kicked around that might be able to impact us even more in future years than they might be in 2021.”

Bringing in Giles would appear to fit the description of a move “that might not just be about 2021” for the Red Sox since, as mentioned before, he will miss all of this year while recovering and rehabbing from Tommy John.

Again, this is just a mere suggestion. I am not implying that the Red Sox will sign or even have any serious interest in signing Giles at some point this winter. We will have to wait and see what happens on that front.

Also, for what it’s worth, the Padres have reportedly traded speedy outfielder Greg Allen to the Yankees, so he will remain on another club’s 40-man roster for the time being.

(Photo of Ken Giles: Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Showing Active Interest’ in Blue Jays’ Ken Giles and Padres’ Kirby Yates

The Red Sox are ‘showing active interest’ in San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates and Toronto Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Giles, 28, has posted a 1.64 ERA and .205 batting average against over 33 appearances and 33 innings pitched for Toronto this season. He has converted 14 out of a possible 15 save opportunities.

Set to become a free agent at the end of the 2020 season, Giles’ asking price could be quite high. In fact, it’s already been reported by TSN’s Scott Mitchell that other clubs such as the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees have reached out to the Blue Jays about a potential package deal including both Giles and All-Star right-hander Marcus Stroman.

Yates, on the other hand, also does not become a free agent until the winter of 2020/2021.

The 32-year-old All-Star owns a minuscule ERA of 1.07 and a nice batting average against of .169 over 40 appearances and 42 innings of work to go along with a National League-leading 31 saves in 33 opportunities so far in 2019.

Originally drafted by the Sox out of Kauai High School in Lihue, Hawaii back in 2005, Yates has experienced a career renaissance while with the Padres after bouncing around between the Tampa Bay Rays, Yankees, and Los Angeles Angels.

Similar to Giles, Yates is likely to come with a hefty asking price, and given the lack of quality prospects Boston has to offer, it’s not hard to imagine that other teams may be able to put together a better proposal.

According to MLB.com, the Red Sox have one top-100 prospect in the form of 19-year-old first baseman Triston Casas, who the club selected with their first pitck in last year’s amateur draft.

When Boston acquired right-hander Andrew Cashner from the Baltimore Orioles on July 13th, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that, “We’re trying to win. We have a chance to win. We know we have to play better. But also we’re trying to rebuild our system. And I think we’re getting to the point where we’re starting to get to that.”

With that, if Dombrowski has the chance to acquire either of these aforementioned relievers without Boston’s farm system taking a major hit, expect a move to be made.

5 Relievers Red Sox Should Target Before July 31st Trade Deadline

I wrote on Sunday about how this Red Sox bullpen needs help from the outside. With the way things are trending, the three relievers Boston has frequently turned to so far this season will be burned out later in the year.

Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier have seen their share of struggles in June, Brandon Workman is averaging nearly seven walks per nine innings this season, and Heath Hembree has been missed during his time on the injured list.

It’s been well stated that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski should look to upgrade his bullpen before the July 31st trading deadline, so here are five names I think he and the Red Sox should target.

LHP Will Smith, San Francisco Giants

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As the featured image would indicate, Giants closer Will Smith first comes to mind for upgrading the Red Sox’ bullpen situation.

Set to turn 30 next month and become a free agent this winter, the left-hander has had a fantastic year in his second full season with San Francisco, posting a 2.01 ERA and 2.10 FIP over 32 appearances  and 31 1/3 innings while averaging more than 13 strikeouts per nine innings and holding opposing hitters to a .157 batting average against.

Given that Sox manager Alex Cora has decided to go without a traditional closer so far in 2019, Smith could provide the reigning World Series champs with what they have been missing in that traditional ninth inning man.

LHP Tony Watson, San Francisco Giants

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
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Another left-handed Giants reliever, Watson’s current contract runs through the end of the 2019 campaign and includes a player option for next year.

Now in his second season with San Francisco, the 34-year-old hurler hasn’t picked up a save in a game since he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017, but he can still provide help and experience to a club that is in need of it.

Through 33 appearances and 30 2/3 frames of work in 2019, Watson owns an ERA of 2.64 and a slightly higher FIP of 3.87. He is averaging nearly seven strikeouts per nine and opponents are hitting .250 off of him.

Obviously, these numbers are not as elite as Smith’s, but I think it would be worth the Red Sox’ time and effort to look into acquiring Watson, especially if the former has a hefty asking price.

LHP Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

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The third and final southpaw on this list, Doolittle has a team option attached to his deal that runs through the end of this season.

The 32-year-old has been a bright spot in what’s been another disappointing year for the Washington Nationals to this point, posting a 3.13 ERA and 2.87 FIP over 33 relief outings and 31 2/3 innings pitches.

A one time Oakland Athletic, Doolittle has converted 16 out of a possible 19 saves while averaging nearly 11 punchouts per nine and holding opposing hitters to a .254 batting average against.

With plenty of late-game experience in hand, Doolittle is another option that could alleviate some stress for the back end of the Boston ‘pen.

RHP Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

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Now on to the American League arms, and we’ll start with Tigers closer Shane Greene.

Acquired from the New York Yankees in December of 2014 when Dombrowski was still at the helm in Detroit, Greene has evolved from a failed starter to one of the better relievers in the AL in his time with the Tigers.

The 30-year-old righty, who still has one year of arbitration left, owns a minuscule ERA of 0.93 to go along with a FIP of 3.56 through 29 games this season. He has converted 21 of a possible 22 saves while limiting the opposition to a .154 clip.

In his time running baseball operations with Boston, Dombrowski has built a reputation of going out and acquiring or signing players he has had a history with. David Price, J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler all come to mind. So, why not do it again by bringing in Greene to be the new Red Sox’ closer? The asking price may be high given the years of control and what not, but this is an avenue that at least needs to be explored.

RHP Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays

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Finally, someone the Red Sox just saw this past weekend in Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.

Like Greene, the 28-year-old right-hander still has another year of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency following the 2020 season.

Since being acquired by Toronto from the Houston Astros last July, Giles has been solid, especially this season with an ERA of 1.33 and FIP of 1.07 through 27 appearances and 27 innings of work.

In those 27 outings, Giles has averaged 15.7 punchouts per nine innings while holding opposing hitters to just a .202 batting average against. He has also converted 12 of a possible 13 save opportunities.

Giles missed a little more than a week of action earlier this month due to inflammation in his right elbow, so that may be something to monitor.

The trade deadline is just over a month away and the Red Sox currently sit eight games back of the New Yankees for first place in the American League East.