Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Craig Kimbrel wants a six-year deal after that postseason performance? Buh-bye. No chance he’s back, but who does that leave as the closer? Someone off the current roster or a free agent? – Bob G.
Well, I don’t really believe Kimbrel expects to get six years, but can’t blame him for aiming high given his level of accomplishment (he’ll have something of a Hall of Fame case) and the possibility that a few stray general managers didn’t watch the postseason. He might parlay the wish into four years. I wouldn’t want the Red Sox to sign him even for two. They got the best of him at a good rate, and they’re not going to give him a raise to pay for his decline. That’s the ideal scenario for a team.
So who succeeds him? Presuming Alex Cora intends to go with a conventional closer, I’d say Matt Barnes should get the first shot. He had a fine season (3.65 ERA, 96 strikeouts in 61.2 innings, similar to Kimbrel’s 96 Ks in 62.1 innings). And he was superb in the playoffs, allowing just one run and three hits in 8.2 innings in mostly high-leverage spots.
Yeah, he blew three save attempts and didn’t earn a save all season, but you get hit with a blown save anytime you give up a lead at any point in the game. There’s no indication whatsoever that he can’t pitch the ninth. In fact, I’d say he confirmed his intestinal fortitude in the postseason.
Ryan Brasier has the velocity, slider, and get-the-bad-word-in-the-batter’s-box attitude to do it as well. And if they choose to go to an outside option, I thought Yankees free-agent David Robertson was an interesting option right up until reading he was one of the leaders of the meeting in which the Yankees stiffed a bunch of employees on playoff shares. Still wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up here. He reportedly wants to pitch near his Rhode Island home, and I don’t think he means for the PawSox until they move to Worcester.
To me, it’s the most obvious solution. Matt Barnes should get the first crack at being the defending champs’ closer. But what do you guys think? I’ll hear you in the comments.